You’re Not Alone in This Leadership Confusion


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Many myths about leadership abound. One of those myths, in particular, steers leaders in the wrong direction. Be careful how much you embrace it.

You’ve heard this myth often, expressed in different ways:

  • “It’s lonely at the top.”
  • “The buck stops here.”
  • “Never let them see you sweat.”

What’s wrong with these aphorisms? Nothing, as long as we consume them in small doses. But swallowed whole and as our only diet, they lead us to conclude the wrong things about the nature of leadership and create confusion.

The Views on Leadership are Distorted

They lead us to suppose that leadership is a solo act; that it is a matter of putting up a front. That it requires posturing. And that leadership is some set of traits or behaviors possessed solely by those whom society, by virtue of their position in organizations, calls “leaders.” This is simply a distorted view. I am sure you can see this misses the single most important aspect of leadership. You’re not alone in this thinking either.

As Shay McConnon so aptly puts it, leadership is a shared responsibility between the person in the role of leader and people who fulfill the role of being led.

Leadership requires a balanced diet made up of both personal skills and interpersonal relations. It inheres in the community, not in one person. It requires integrity and authenticity, not putting up a façade. No artificial colors or flavors should be added.

Leadership is About Relationships

Leadership cannot be learned in seminars or in workshops. Nor can it be learned from a book or a blog post (even this one). Leadership can only be learned by doing, by being in relationship with others…it must be a transformational process. This is why so many corporate leadership training programs are grossly failing to make a difference. They are taught in isolation from real work, from real people at work. Think about it, does reading a diet book cause you to lose weight? Does reading a book on parenting make you a better parent? Does reading about leadership make you a better leader?

A Change is Coming

You are now experiencing a revolution in the way leadership is being developed in organizations. It is a more effective way to develop leadership skills because it develops leaders in the context of the work you are doing by focusing on your relationship with the people you are doing it with. It is based in experience; it results in transformation.

This is leadership development with a purpose, in real context. It’s relationship development. It blurs the distinction between the two. Here’s the truth…leadership development “is” relationship development.

If you don’t want to be alone in this, you need to read Averting the Leadership Development Crisis. Get your free copy now.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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