Can Leadership be learned? - (1/4)


Can Leadership be learned? - (1/4)

Professor Hitendra Wadhwa / Founder / Institute for Personal Leadership


One question I constantly get in my teaching at Columbia Business School and the Institute for Personal Leadership, from executives and MBA students alike, is “Can leadership actually be learned?”

After all, could you even imagine transforming yourself into a towering leadership icon like Lincoln, Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt or Steve Jobs? And isn’t leadership a very personal journey? So how can it be learned?

In my research on Personal Leadership, we draw from the latest scientific findings on human and organizational performance. This science is now shedding powerful light on how world-class performers acquire mastery in any discipline.  

We also look for real-world examples of personal leadership in action, by studying and dissecting the lives of great leaders. The video below shows you why we actively tap these great leaders in our executive education programs at IPL. 


In a Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey of 100+ CEOs across the globe, when asked about the leader they most admire, a large number of the names CEOs cited were of social and political leaders from history. In today’s time, corporate leaders are keen to find ways to inspire change, forge commitment and collaboration, and deliver social impact in ways that are not as far removed from a Lincoln or Mandela or Gandhi as we may expect at first glance. And so IPL’s studies of great leaders are drawn not just from the world of business, but society and politics as well. 

This is a blog mini-series where I explore 6 IDEAS on how one can learn to be a better leader. These IDEAS will give you a flavor for how we at the Institute for Personal Leadership have organized the learning journey you can embark on in any of our programs. 

IDEA #1: Establish Your Principles 

To introduce you to this first idea, I invite you to watch this video, to experience a powerful moment with Nelson Mandela.


This is IDEA #1:  Define a set of principles that you associate with the new leadership competency you are seeking to cultivate. These principles lay out your path to mastery. In the next post, I will look at how you can start walking down that path.



IPL’s Master Class on “Leading Change” equips you with a thorough set of insights, tools, and planning templates for how to change behaviors, drawing from the latest scientific insights and great leader studies.