"I Train Managers to be Good Leaders of People"

Last night I attended my second Spanish lesson.  During our exercise working out how to say our occupation, I got a real eye-opener.

My instructor is from Columbia and has been living in the U.S. and speaking English for about 20 years.  It took at least 10 minutes of us going back and forth to get to this:  “Yo entreno los gerentes a que sean buenos lideres para las personas.”  (“I train managers to be good leaders for people.”)

At that point, Margarita realized why she and I were having so much problem getting on the same page about what I do, and how to translate it.  When we finally got to, “I train managers to be good leaders for people.”, she responded with, “That can’t be right.  Why do you have to train people who are already leaders to lead people?  Don’t they already know how?  Why would they have been given the job if they didn’t know how?”  All the other North Americans in the room smiled knowingly at each other.

I train managers to be good leaders of people.

It did sound a little silly when she said that.  It made me wonder about underlying assumptions.  Is there a reason managers are not more prepared?  Is that expecting too much?  There are certainly phases of development that leaders could not get to without real experience.

Margarita’s questions make me wonder what I am missing as a leadership educator, because of the assumptions I am making, of which I am not even aware.

What would you say?  Do managers need to be trained to lead?  Or is the “leadership development” world solving a problem that doesn’t exist?  What is your response and why?