Five Myths About Leadership

John C. Maxwell addresses some common misconceptions of leadership in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

Below are his five myths of leadership. I highly recommend reading John’s book for more detailed information on these myths and further guidance on the topic of leadership.

1. The Management Myth

Leading and managing are not the same thing.

“Leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focusses on maintaining systems and processes.”

“Managers can maintain direction, but often they can’t change it. Systems and processes can do only so much. To move people in a new direction, you need influence.”

2. The Entrepreneur Myth

Entrepreneurs are not necessarily leaders.

“[Entrepreneurs] see needs and understand how to meet them in a way that produces a profit. But not all of them are good with people.”

“Many [entrepreneurs] find it necessary to partner with someone skilled at the people part of the equation. If they can’t influence people, they can’t lead.”

3. The Knowledge Myth

Possessing an abundance of knowledge and intelligence doesn’t make you a leader.

“You can visit any major university and meet brilliant research scientists and philosophers whose ability to think is so high that it’s off the charts but whose ability to lead is so low that it doesn’t even register on the charts.”

4. The Pioneer Myth

Just because you’re out in front of the crowd doesn’t mean you’re a leader.

“Being the first isn’t always the same as leading. For example, Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest. But that doesn’t make Hillary a leader. He wasn’t even the official leader on the expedition when he reached the summit.”

“To be a leader, a person has to not only be out front, but also have people intentionally coming behind him, following his lead, and acting on his vision.”

5. The Position Myth

Leadership is not based on a person’s position.

“In 1994, institutional investors of Saatchi & Saatchi forced the board of directors to dismiss Maurice Saatchi, the company’s CEO. What was the result? Several executives followed him out. So did many of the company’s largest accounts…”

“Saatchi’s influence was so great that his departure caused the company’s stock to fall immediately… Saatchi lost his title and position, but he continued to be the leader.”

More on this topic…

Again, John C. Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a great read for anyone seeking a better understanding of leadership. Hopefully this snippet inspires you to read it.