5 Leadership Myths Exposed.

Leadership is a confused minefield for the uninitiated. We have thousands of experts out there all sending their messages and the corresponding noise often dilutes the power that leadership brings.
Additionally, I have read some recent articles in which managers have detailed their dissatisfaction with leadership consultants and the results and disruption to the business. "Just Manage", is the message that is ringing out loud and clear.

Why has it come to this?

There are leadership myths. One thing however is clear. If you "manage" people, you are a leader. Managers are leaders. You lead by title and position, but you lead. The only judgement is whether you are a good leader or not.

Which got me thinking about the myths that emanate from those not dialed in to the leadership world. Let us have a look at some of the myths surrounding leadership.

Leadership is a Soft Skill
Leadership is not about campfires and signing the gospel. Leadership is one of the toughest skills to consistently display and act on. It isn't about going soft on people, it isn't about only telling people want to hear. Great leaders have the following characteristics
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Build Trust and Respect
  • Courage
  • Conviction
  • Empathy
Many people go with the flow and look for consensus. This is the way of the average. Great leaders do what is right. And that is not a soft skill.
Leadership and management are mutually exclusive
Some people look at leadership like it's a higher plane and only worthy of an exalted few. All leaders have a degree of management built within them. Leaders use their management skills to build effectiveness. They have:
  • The ability to prioritize (Time Management)
  • Measure effectiveness
  • Self-Management
Each good leader understands that management disciplines are required to be truly successful.

People not process

Leadership is about the people, but great leaders know that process is important. Process provides the guidelines to build empowerment and build people engagement. The difference here is that true leaders don't allow the process to constrain the people. They allow the people to improve the process in a state of continual improvement. Poor leaders stick rigidly to the process, limiting people and the business.

Leaders are Born - Leadership is a Natural Skill

Many see leadership as a natural thing, and therefore do not see themselves as leaders. While many can argue that some people are more naturally tuned to leadership, I believe that leadership is a skill and this can be trained.
I do know that leadership qualities must come from within. It is built from character. Our great leaders have a character that lends itself to it and no-one with poor character can truly lead people in a great way. Our character is built from the way we think and the way we perceive the world. We do have the ability to have conscious and rational thought and with this we have the capacity to change the way we thing and perceive the world.

Leadership is hard to quantify

"Everything rises and falls on leadership" - John Maxwell.  Examine events of history, great companies, great teams and sporting dynasties and at the heart is a leader. Everything great that happens is due to a leader, and with that the reverse is also true.
Leadership is about positive business outcomes. It is about engaging your people and having them committed fully to the success of the endevour. When your people are fully committed you see reductions in costs through
  • Less focus on under-performing team members
  • Less absenteeism
  • Greater retention of people
And you see increases in revenue through engagement and connection with the customer.
Yes, increased exposure and awareness of leadership can not be guaranteed to lead to a 20% increase on the bottom line. It is reliant on the effectiveness and commitment of the leader. However, it is clear that when a leader commits and engages in improving their leadership ability, positive business outcomes do come. This includes greater commercial outcomes.

Summary

Every manager is a leader in some description.I do know that if you do not improve your leadership skills, you are effectively making the choice to limit your people and your business.
Improving your leadership will improve your results both personally and from a business perspective. Leading by title and position only is the hardest leadership you will ever do. We know that as you build your leadership skills, you build better people and you build better engagement and better effectiveness. It gets easier when people choose to follow you, and this only happens through greater application of leadership skills.

Tony Curl
About the Author
Tony Curl is a leadership coach and business consultant. He combines international certification with his 30 years of Operational Leadership with some of Australia's biggest retail names. He can be contacted by visiting his website at www.leadershiplifeandstyle.com.au

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