Leadership is a craft, a combination of learned skills and art which together can create something useful. A craftsman has never “arrived,” because there are always new things to learn and ways to improve. The basics can be learned in a relatively short time but mastery is always at least one step beyond where you are now.
A new supervisor can learn the basics of the role in a few months, and be quite effective in two years. People being messy and complex, she’ll always need to be learning new things throughout her career as a supervisor.
I can teach you the basics of project management over the course of a small project. Projects are simply a set of related tasks which add up to a desired result; at the core project management is repeatedly answering the question “Who does what by when?” Yet excellent PM work requires significant practice and experience in a range of project types.
An organization leader can learn the basics of the role quickly – indeed, many lessons will be forced upon him! Yet there are so many variations on the themes that he’ll be in constant learning mode.
After a few years of experience, you don’t fail because is not that you don’t know the basics, or didn’t have enough skills. No, the most likely reason you fail is what’s in your head. There’s trash in there – unhelpful worldviews and frameworks, inner whiners, insecurities, childish and easily bruised ego, selfish purposes, thinking that you’ve “evolved” beyond basic principles, etc.
At this point, working on your leadership craft is mostly working on YOU. It’s a daily fight for you being the best you possible, in order to serve others and fulfill the largest dreams. It’s an ongoing struggle against the weak you that wants to crawl into a corner and make today disappear into a web history trail of mindless YouTube surfing. It’s a frequent confrontation with the whiny you who only wants to be comfortable.
Weak leaders love to say “I’m fighting against the world.” Mature leaders understand it’s a fight with yourself, in order to make the world a better place.
It’s a beautiful, necessary fight, and worth it.