One thing I learned in obtaining a master’s in leadership is that defining leadership is difficult.
John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.”
I love a simple definition. Simple works. It’s effective and communicates.
Still, I have observed leadership is often not easy to define as a few simple words. In fact, there are many myths when it comes to even what leadership means—certainly how it’s practiced. I encounter people who don’t have a clue what real leadership is and what it isn’t.
Let me share a few myths I’ve observed.
Here are seven of my favorite myths about leadership:
A position makes one a leader.
Really? I don’t think so. Some believe simply having a big or fancy title makes them a leader. Not true. I’ve known many people with huge positions whom no one was truly following. They may give out orders and command a certain obedience, but no one is willingly following their lead. They may be a boss, but I wouldn’t call them a leader.
If I’m not hearing anyone complain, everyone must be happy.
Yea, right! Have you ever heard of passive aggression? The fact is sometimes the leader is the last to know about a problem. Some people are intimidated by leadership. Other times, they don’t know how to approach the leader, so they complain to others, but not the leader. And sometimes, the way I’m leading dictates who tells me what I really need to know.
I can lead everyone the same way.
I have learned this one is so not true. It simply doesn’t work. Actually, people are different and require different leadership styles. I’m not saying it’s easy, but if you want to be effective you will learn your people and alter your style to fit their personalities.
Leadership and management are the same thing.
Great organizations need both, but they are not equal and they require different skills. Simply put: Leadership is more about empowerment and guiding people to a common vision—often into the unknown. Management is more about maintaining efficiency within a predetermined destination.