Leadership Was Not In The Curriculum

Karl Bimshas
4 min readFeb 13, 2024
Leadership Was Not In The Curriculum by Karl Bimshas

It may be hard to believe, but there are many professional services where leadership skills are not explicitly taught in the curriculum. Most people you encounter will not have had formal leadership training, which is a shame because leadership skills are valuable in managing projects, conflicts, collaborations, and careers.

From coders to graphic designers, legal services to healthcare, and beyond, countless professions demand technical prowess and the ability to lead, inspire, and guide. In many fields, formal education seldom emphasizes leadership training, leaving people to navigate this essential aspect of their careers on their own.

Software developers and technical wizards may thrive in their element, but as they ascend the career ladder, they find themselves leading teams and projects. Expertise in algorithms and coding isn’t enough; effective collaboration, communication, and decision-making become just as, if not more important. The same applies to graphic designers, who may dazzle with their creativity but find themselves overseeing teams, managing client relationships, and orchestrating complex projects where effective leadership can make the difference between failure and success.

Legal services offer another prime example. Lawyers undergo rigorous legal theory and practice training, yet explicit leadership often remains uncharted territory. As they transition into roles where they lead teams, interact with clients, and explore the intricacies of case law and the legal landscape, the importance of leadership skills becomes unmistakable quickly.

Financial services, healthcare, consulting, marketing — the story repeats itself across all sectors. Professionals with expertise in their domains often overlook the need for leadership skills. As they evolve within their careers, they realize that success demands technical proficiency and the ability to effectively lead, motivate, and inspire others in a way that produces short and long-term results, preferably without being a jerk about it.

In these professions, the path to leadership is often paved through on-the-job experiences, accidental mentorships, professional development initiatives, and self-directed learning. While formal education may not have prioritized leadership training, the workplace thrusts high performers into leadership roles where adaptability, resilience, and emotional intelligence are required for a modicum of continued success.

Leadership isn’t reserved for CEOs, executives, or Managing Partners. It’s a dynamic set of skills permeating all corners of professional life, from team collaborations to client interactions, strategic planning, and project management. Whatever your field, cultivating leadership skills benefits personal growth, career advancement, and organizational success.

How can individual contributors bridge the gap between technical expertise and leadership prowess? Embrace a commitment to learning and growth. Seek mentorship from seasoned leaders, participate in leadership development programs, devour literature on leadership theory and practice, and take every opportunity to lead.

As professionals, we owe it to ourselves and our respective fields to nurture our leadership potential. Develop your ability to lead with grace, empathy, and curiosity. Leadership isn’t defined by titles or the accolades of acolytes but by our impact on those we lead.

Navigating Work Without Formal Leadership Training

Whether you are an artist, writer, dentist, or in any other profession where leadership is not a prominent part of the curriculum, there are ways to cultivate and leverage leadership skills for success.

  1. Self-awareness: Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Reflect on how you naturally take charge or influence others, and be open to refining your approach over time.
  2. Continuous learning: Seek leadership resources. Books, online courses, and leadership development programs can provide valuable insights and techniques to enhance leadership capabilities.
  3. Effective communication: Leadership often hinges on clear and concise communication. Develop your ability to convey ideas, provide feedback, and actively listen, a crucial skill in any professional setting.
  4. Lead by example: Demonstrate the qualities you wish to see in others. Whether it’s dedication, integrity, or a strong work ethic, embodying these traits creates an influential environment.
  5. Build strong relationships: Networking is making connections and building relationships. Cultivate meaningful professional connections, as they can offer support, guidance, and potential collaborations in the future.
  6. Adaptability: Embrace change, stay open-minded, and encourage others to do the same. A flexible mindset is a hallmark of effective leadership.
  7. Seek mentorship: Even if formal leadership training wasn’t part of your education, having an experienced leader as a mentor can provide helpful guidance. Learn from their experiences and apply those lessons to your life.
  8. Take on leadership opportunities: Look for chances to lead, whether it’s heading a project, mentoring a colleague, or participating in professional organizations. Practical experience is an effective teacher.
  9. Invest in emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing your emotions and recognizing and empathizing with others’ emotions are fundamental to leadership. Emotional intelligence will significantly enhance your ability to lead well.
  10. Evaluate and adapt your leadership style: Assess your leadership style and be willing to adapt it based on your team’s needs or the situation at hand.

While formal leadership education may not have been part of your professional journey thus far, that is not an adequate excuse to avoid pursuing your development of essential leadership skills. There are numerous avenues to develop and excel in leadership. Embrace self-discovery, seek learning opportunities, and apply these skills in your daily interactions.

About Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Karl Bimshas is a leadership consultant, executive coach, and author. Since 2009, he has collaborated with individual entrepreneurs, executives, and their companies to improve relationships and strengthen essential leadership skills.



Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.