5 Myths of Leadership

What’s your definition of leadership? Here are some to consider:

Leadership is …

… delivering and maintaining clear vision

… empowering staff to make the vision a reality

… maintaining the highest integrity at all times

… the skill of influencing others to achieve common goals

… actively and continually focusing on people in the context of the vision

… an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction.

… the art of getting the best out of others.

… the ability to be true to yourself and what you stand for

… being realistic.

Perceptions of leadership vary enormously depending on you as a person and the organisation you may be in. Here are some myths surrounding Leadership and in reading this article, I hope it gives you confidence to take the lead wherever, and whenever, you need to:

Myth # 1: Leaders are born.

Truth: Few of us remain the person we were when we were born. We are shaped by our surroundings and nurtured by those who bring us up. All behaviour is learned, and that goes for leadership behaviour too.

Myth # 2: Leaders have specific job titles so everyone knows they are leaders. eg. Chairman, CEO, CFO.

Truth: Well, that depends on your definition of leadership. If you accept that a large part of leadership is your ability to influence your own response to situations, you can be in any role to do that. It’s not the sole reserve of the senior management team.

Myth # 3: You’ve got to manage a team to be a leader.

Truth: Again, this depends on your definition of leadership. If you believe leadership is the art of getting the best out of others, why restrict that to work? What about your significant other, your children and your friends? Leadership is influence, and we exert influence all the time on people we interact with. Good leaders do that well to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Myth # 4: You need to be a great orator to be a leader.

Truth: Many great orators are known for their ability to rally crowds behind a cause. A few that come to mind are Bob Geldof, Martin Luther-King and Barack Obama. However it’s quite possible that these people are great orators because they promote a cause, and they have become leaders because of their passion for their calling. The skill in speaking comes from being a great leader, not the other way round. Alex Ferguson is a great leader if you consider his results with Manchester United, but I don’t recall any particular rousing speeches he has made. Maybe we should ask the players!

Myth # 5: It’s up to other people to decide if I am a leader.

Truth: Our experience is that others decide if you are a good leader based on their experience of you, but typically leaders are self appointed. Only you can really decide if you want to be a leader or not.

So what is it to be?

Ask yourself this: What is stopping me from developing my leadership style right now?

And what do I, and others, stand to gain when I take the lead to create positive change?