Traditional leadership methods are on their way out and it’s not just because of COVID-19. It’s been coming for some time. People aren’t and never have been looking for just work. They’re looking to make a difference and feel as if they matter in the larger scheme of things. This need is creating leaders at every level in organizations, with leadership roles flowing from person to person.
Workforce’s are becoming more spread out, more remote and forcing the need for collaboration and delegation of decision-making authority that traditional leadership models can no longer handle. As a result, many of the time-honored leadership training concepts have failed as the people holding on to them have been proven wrong in their methods time and again.
Here are some leadership concepts and myths that should be discarded in place of more creative ways to develop Personal Leadership Effectiveness, because when you do that, you improve the effectiveness of the organization at the same time.
Leaders are only at the top. The myth that leadership prowess belongs only to one or two people at the top of a pyramid of power and control is gone. In reality, leadership is multidimensional. On any given day, each of us moves through a range of different expressions of leadership. We’re all leaders in one way or another, and when we hold a wider view of leadership, we can work together in a way that utilizes the unique talents of everyone.
Leaders are designated by title and authority. We’re seeing this play out daily, where Mayors, Governors, Politicians, Church Leaders, who have both the title and authority, are abdicating those responsibilities adnauseam. We all have the potential of becoming capable leaders by taking full responsibility for our actions with those we lead. We can influence any endeavor, whether from the front of the effort or from behind it. A title does not make someone a leader. There are plenty of examples of people with fancy titles who are not able to connect, inspire, empower, or develop others. A leader works hard for the expertise and abilities they have while cultivating respectful relationships with those around them. As a result, they’re able to inspire others and work together to achieve goals.
Leadership is about results, not people. As the pace of life continues to quicken, businesses and employees have become increasingly action-oriented and results-driven. It seems more expedient to dispense with all the “soft” stuff and drive hard for outcomes. Unfortunately, when we’re disconnected from ourselves and others, this incessant doing leads to actions that aren’t logical and leaves people feeling disconnected from the work and results they’re achieving. Leading is about people and helping them achieve results. The more that people are focused on, trusted and empowered, the more they’ll accomplish.
Leadership is static. We tend to believe that once leadership has been assigned by role or title, things stay that way until the designated leader resigns, is fired, or dies. In reality, leadership is more effective, dynamic and alive when it changes rapidly throughout an organization. In this way, everyone’s a leader—sometimes leading in front and pointing the way or leading from behind and supporting the initiative. Sometimes leaders can lead through a partnership, or by using instinct and intuition to sense what’s unspoken.
Leaders have all the answers. In the past, we tended to characterize leaders as heroic, bright problem solvers who provide solutions to difficult problems in an instant. It’s the antithesis of collaboration and diversity, producing solutions that are often shallow or one-dimensional. These kind of solutions are ineffective because they haven’t undergone rigorous, committed examination and debate. Curiosity, critical thinking, and feedback are all a part of effective leadership.
Failure isn’t an option. This line of thought is not conducive to growth and change. Failure’s an essential part of exploration, new discoveries, and innovation. If we can’t afford to fail, then we must stay with proven approaches from the past. Our actions lack curiosity because we’re so afraid of failure we’re not willing to try something new. It’s through failure that we can learn, evolve, and grow.
The world we live in right now is full of never before’s and unknown’s. Leaders stuck in the past won’t survive. Unfortunately, neither will their organizations, which means neither will their people.
The days of one size fits all leadership are over and have been for a long time.