We look at leadership effectiveness as encompassing three components: personal effectiveness, relational effectiveness and assertiveness. Each of these components, in turn, has five attributes, all or which require well honed and tested skills relating to thought, communication, action, emotional intelligence and energy. In light of our work in this area, it was refreshing to read a recent Forbes blog piece, 5 Myths Of Leadership, debunking leadership concepts which are often bantered about yet are far from the truth.
First, the blog post rejects the idea that leaders work smart rather than hard. In fact, although the post doesn’t acknowledge it, effective leaders do both. I’ve never met a successful leader who didn’t work like a dog showing deep and enduring dedication to the business. Yet hard work alone is not enough. As we demonstrate in our upcoming book, to be effective, leaders need to apply the 15 attributes of leadership to their work in order to succeed.
Second, the blog post disputes the myth that leaders have all the answers. Of course they don’t. In great companies, knowledge is widely dispersed, often globally. But leaders get the information they need to make good decisions and inspire others to follow.
Third, the blog post dispels any notion that leaders should always be in the spotlight. To the contrary, great leaders share visibility and credit widely with team members who, through this approach, become great leaders themselves.
Fourth, the blog post disagrees with those who believe that leaders should always be “on.” Instead, they need time to think and reflect as well as rest, and their success depends heavily on getting this time.
Finally, the blog post makes it clear that leaders are made not born. On this point, I agree, but only to a point. Nobody is a born leader. However, not everybody can become a leader no matter how hard you work at it. Behavioral science as well as personal experience at assessing and coaching executives has taught us that certain people, perhaps a strong majority of the population, will find exhibiting the behaviors that drive leadership effectiveness to be so energy draining that they cannot consistently demonstrate them. This argues strongly for the use of assessments in assigning people to high potential future-leader status. Because, if the right people are put in the pipeline, then leadership can be taught to all of them.