10 Things Leadership is Not

When it comes to understanding leadership, we’ve created a myth-making industry, a platitudinous art, an intellectual toy. We’ve made it too complicated, and in many cases, the theories we’ve hatched are dangerously misleading. Consider the following 10 flawed theories :

  1. Leadership is about charisma. If you have personal magnetism, dash, and style, you are a leader.
  2. Leadership is about eloquence. If you have Churchillian powers of expression, you are a leader.
  3. Leadership is about power. If you are a chief executive officer or bemedaled general, you are a leader.
  4. Leadership is about seniority. If you have outlived everyone else, you are a leader.
  5. Leadership is about scale. If you work on the important issues of the day, you area leader.
  6. Leadership is about popularity. If everyone likes you, you are a leader.
  7. Leadership is about fame. If you are known far and wide, you are a leader.
  8. Leadership is about winning. If you have beat your opponents, you are a leader.
  9. Leadership is about wealth. If you have money, you are a leader.
  10. Leadership is about education. If you are degreed and credentialed, you are a leader.

Some people possess all of these things and are not leaders. Others possess none of these things and are. These 10 things only point to the possibility of leadership, but make no promises. So then what is leadership? Simple. It’s about influence–influencing others to create and achieve shared, meaningful goals through psychological safety.

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