Leadership is about getting things done and helping people reach their potential. My experiences have shown me many organizations do a pitiful job helping people reach their potential. One reason for this is due to old-fashioned leadership concepts or what I call, “leadership mythology.”
Myth 1 – Leadership is a rare ability only given to a few
Most people have the potential to become good leaders. Leadership is not like a diet pill. Like most learned skills, it takes time, training, and lots of trial by 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
Closer scrutiny shows that most leaders are not. Some of the world’s most famous leaders had some sort of shortcoming or personality issue. 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 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.
Myth 4 – Effective leadership is based on control, coercion, and manipulation
Leadership is about the future, not the past. “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.