I love challenging conventional wisdom. I was born to upset the apple cart and march to the beat of a different drummer. My mother would agree. I think that’s why I’m so devoted to helping technical organizations build better leaders. When we hide behind the myth that STEM types are poor leaders, we miss the opportunity to develop leaders that can inspire and motivate creative scientific minds, build collaborative multi-disciplinary teams and tackle massive technical challenges.
Let’s debunk some common leadership myths:
Myth 1: Leadership is a rare skill.
We often associate leadership with highly visible and acclaimed figures such as Lincoln, Churchill and Gandhi. In truth, there are many examples of visionary leadership in our everyday lives including coaches, non-profit volunteers, teachers and co-workers.
Myth 2: Leaders are born not made.
For years a debate has raged about whether leadership is innate or learned. The most accepted view today is that it is both. Most people possess some leadership qualities and can further develop leadership skills if they chose to do so.
Myth 3: Effective leaders are charismatic.
Some leaders are charismatic, and others are not. There are many personality types, both extroverts and introverts, who make good leaders.
Myth 4: Leadership only exists at the top.
Leaders exist at every level of an organization, from the executive suites to the shop floor. Leadership is not defined in terms of position, but rather as a person’s ability to act from clear vision and influence others to the realization of that vision.
Myth 5: Leaders control, direct and prod.
Some leaders are controlling and directive in their approach. However, the most effective leaders are those who create enduring change by eliciting commitment from within, rather than imposing outside control.
Did someone come to mind as you read through the leadership myths?
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” -John F. Kennedy