Last spring, I took on a leadership position at work. And I soon realized that I had leadership pegged all wrong.

Like many folks who’ve never led before, I used to think leadership was mostly about making good strategic decisions—about analyzing a complex situation and deciding how best to act. While strategy is massively important, I had way underestimated how much leadership is about understanding people.

Effective leaders learn the needs, motivations, likes, and dislikes of those they work with, at all levels of the organizational heirarchy. They persuade, they give and take, and they avoid pulling rank. Good leadership makes everyone happier and more productive.

And it can be learned, like anything else. Thank goodness.