Thursday, 02 July 2015 16:20

Why Are There No Leadership Certificates?

Our team is often asked why there are no leadership certificates. Of course the are asking about qualification certificates, not just certificates for attending a programme.

As our vision and role is to develop leadership in people all over the world regardless of status, location or position, is this a reasonable question from our potential candidates?

Nature of Leadership
Fundamentally, there are three outcomes in leaderhsip, although you can grade people on a scale. There is no leadership ability, regular leadership ability, and outstanding or extraordinary leadership ability. Each of these must be taken in context however. If a person is the coach of a local sports team and they are a great leader of that team, that does not necessarily translate into them being a great leader in any other endeavour. An essential component of leadership is technical expertise, but only when there is a need for it. It is possible to be a leader in more than one situation, but too many concurrent situations draws away from another key leadership trait - focus. So if a person were to receive a 'certificate' for leadership ability, what would that mean?

Developing Leadership
In parts of the world where leadership development is still little more than a dream, development is often seen as a training programme to be attended, because there is no other frame of reference. The base knowledge of what traits constitute leadership is not well known, even though people do follow someone with leadership abilities. Following a leader is understood intrinsically in the human.

We spend a lot of time explaining to people that a leadership certificate would not make much sense and would look a bit out of place on a curriculum vitae or resumé. Leadership is demonstrated and it is only proven when others choose to follow. No amount of certificates will help.

The Good Outcome
This always gives us much enjoyment - to see the reactions as many of our members suddenly realise they already have some leadership potential. This is such a satisfying experience as people wake up to the possibilities of change in their lives and for their communities. We are desperately short of leaders worldwide and by growing more, we can tackle global problems more frequently and more effectively than we do today.

We explore the passions of each indiviudal we talk to and seek to understand major issues in their local community. We research the issues so can put remote mentoring into context for them. These local problems vary immensely but can be as simple (and essential) as getting enough water to a village, to improving the effectiveness of early education or gaining access to medical knowledge and supplies. As we listen to the individuals, we match their passions with local problems and coach them into action. The whole experience is highly rewarding.

How do you coach an aspiring leader?
  • first, realise you don't have to be super human to try and lead (or coach)
  • identify what passions a person has - what do they enjoy, or spend most time at that they also love?
  • what opportunities exist where this person could turn their hand to change?
  • interest them in coming up with some ideas and help them set stretch goals
  • let them explain their ideas to others and see if a consensus builds
  • watch that individual open their eyes and start to realise their potential
  • provide ongoing support to them as they hit the inevitable roadblocks and detractors
Leadership is truly something that anybody with enough passion and drive can achieve. We have to recognise when and where we can, and cannot lead, where we should and should not try to lead, and always look for those around us who can be encouraged to do something greater with us.

This is why there are no certificates for leadership. Leadership is a set of traits well executed, but also requires passion and an opportunity or need to make a difference. We all have leadership capability within. We owe it to the world to develop these skills. We should encourage others to do the same. Great leaders create more great leaders.

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Published in Thought Leadership