Dispelling Four Common Leadership Myths
By Ron J Hiller
A Google leadership search yields 356M hits. With this many definitions and touch points it is understandable that there is much confusion around this simple ten letter word. My purpose of this brief narrative isn’t to define leadership, volumes have already been written, and new contributions are added every day, but rather to dispel four common leadership myths.
A leader has to be in a position of power. Power and leadership don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Position is not leadership. Positions may convey power, but only people can display leadership. The world is awash with powerful people who are terrible leaders while there are countless examples of leaders without prestige and power demonstrating courageous and selfless acts of leadership to make the world a better place.
Leaders have to be subject matter experts is another popular myth. Leaders don’t have to possess all the answers. But they need to know how to solve problems by enlisting the support of others. You don’t have to be the best player on the team to be the captain, but you must be the best person to lead.
Leaders must be charismatic is another misconception. Leaders need not be brazen, witty, and magnetic. A person who exudes quiet confidence that is born of a compelling desire to make things better by serving and empowering others trumps those beating their personal drum.
Leaders are born rather than made is perhaps the biggest myth of all. Each of us has leadership potential from day one regardless of our abilities, age, environment, or education. This seed lies dormant within each of us waiting to be awakened by either a necessity, or mentor, or a spark of inspiration.
Anyone can be a leader if they choose to be and if they are prepared to offer up the best of themselves toward helping, motivating and empowering others. There are leaders all around us and they don’t occupy a corner suite. They exist on the shop floor and coaching little league. Don’t wait for a green light, or permission to lead. Don’t wait to be promoted to become a leader. Look for a problem to fix and start leading today and you will quickly discover your leader within.
New managers are faced with a bewildering array of challenges early in their career and not the least of them is discovering how to be a successful leader. They have spent their career fixing problems as an individual contributor and now they are faced with solving complex problems as a team leader. They typically are transitioning from subject matter experts to becoming an expert at leading and motivating people. Leading is not easy and we all need varying degrees of help along the way.
Ron Hiller is the President and CEO of Insights For Performance.