Leadership is probably one of the most talked about business concepts, but the least understood. Leadership is about getting things done and helping people reach their potential. Some organizations do a poor job helping people reach their potential. One reason for this is old-fashioned leadership techniques or “leadership mythology.”
A myth is something that is false, but believed to be true. As in many things in life, there are several myths surrounding the concept and practice of leadership. Unfortunately, these myths prevent qualified people from rising to the top.
Myth 1 – Leadership is a rare ability only given to a few.
Many people still think leaders are born not made. This can’t be further from the truth. Most people have the potential to become good leaders. Like most learned skills, it takes time, training, and lots of trial and error. The key ingredient making people good leaders is the ability to care about others. The second ingredient is a sense of purpose, vision or mission. A good leader charts a course and provides direction to those they lead.
Myth 2 – Leaders are charismatic.
Many leaders are charismatic, but closer scrutiny shows that most leaders are not. In a leadership role, people skills are very important–more important than technical skills. However, the best leaders are those who work toward a goal. Your cause, your purpose and your mission in life will make you charismatic, not the other way around.
Myth 3 – The person with the title, most rank or the highest position is the leader.
True leadership is not based on position or rank. It is based on action, performance, ability, and effectiveness. We all relate to working for those people who were placed in leadership roles who did more to demoralize and destroy the business than anything else.
The best companies strive to develop and create as many leaders as possible.
Myth 4 – Effective leadership is based on control, coercion, and manipulation.
Leadership is about the future, not the past. Joel Barker gave a great quote about leadership, “A leader is someone you would follow to a place you would not go to by yourself.” Good leaders gain followers out of respect and their ability to cause people to work toward a particular goal or achieve a destination. People follow because they can relate to the vision or goal personalized by the leader. A good leader helps people become better than they are. A good leader creates a work environment that attracts, keeps and motivates its workforce.
Myth 5 – Good leaders have more education than other people.
Educational degrees may mean you have a good education, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good leader. When it comes to leadership, experience is the best teacher.