Leadership is THE topic of talk when it comes to all facets of the business world. The modern expectations of leaders and leadership are extremely high, and rightfully so. The modern business leader has more resources and technology at their fingertips than ever before dreamed of, therefore the capacity to grow and develop has reached heights, and as a result, so have our expectations. I think this is only fair if I am truthfully honest. Leaders can make or break so many aspects of their company, from reputation and perception to productivity and employee churn, the reach of a leader’s influence is far and wide, and therefore elevated expectations should be had. Though this widespread knowledge and expectation have led to some very dangerous misconceptions, four of which I want to address today.
1. Leadership is easy
Less common, but probably one of the worst misconceptions is that leadership is easy! I would guess that most who have this perception are yet to have the opportunity to be a lead anything. Leadership is extremely rewarding, but as with most high reward investments, there is a great deal of hardship when it comes to leadership. Now I do believe that some people can be more naturally gifted to manage certain aspects of being a leader than others, but I never think this makes it easy. Any role where the eyes of people are one you to make the first or next move is difficult, to say the least. The amount of personal issues you must overcome to simply assume the position of a leader is hard, not to mention the difficulties of leading people.
2. Leaders are the people with a rank or title
Leadership is always Person before Position. People with position can be managers, but simply being a manager does not automatically make you a leader. I know many people who are managers without a speck of leadership in their character. Remember a leader is followed by choice and demand. Don’t be led astray thinking that you need a position to be a leader, as William Wallace states in Braveheart, “Men don’t follow titles; they follow courage.”
3. Leadership can’t be taught
Sports team, home, school, workplace, community, family – everyone has a leadership role in some aspect of their life. Don’t let your vision be disrupted by the fact that just because yours, or somebody else’s, niche isn’t in business, then it means you’re not a leader. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I would guess that if you don’t feel like a leader in any aspect of your life, you just haven’t found your niche yet.
4. Leadership only comes with “experience”
Leadership has nothing to do with age, experience or talent; the only thing leadership is dependent upon is influence. Show me the most influential person in your company, and I will show you the best opportunity for a great leader. Now given, experience comes with age, and experience can contribute to a leaders’ ability to lead correctly, but the reality is that the person with the greatest influence in your team is the best leader. This applies to positive and negative leader roles. An individual whose negative behaviours leads your team astray is simply a representation of their ability to lead. Get these individuals on board and utilising that skill correctly, and you will have a very powerful individual on your team. Simply put, a leader is always defined by their ability to influence people positively and attract people to follow them.