The Mythical Leader: 7 Myths of Leadership

mythical leader

Misunderstanding Leadership

My friend Ron Edmondson is a pastor, author, blogger, and consultant. After reading his leadership book The Mythical Leader: Seven Myths of Leadership, I followed up with him to discuss the many misunderstandings people have about leadership.

 

“Leadership is influence.” -John Maxwell

 

Avoid the Boss Mentality

I often say that leadership is personal, not positional. Myth number one hits this immediately. What are some of the problems with the “boss has ruled” mentality?

I so hate the word boss. Maybe because I’ve had one and, no, I never want to be seen as one. Frankly, from a purely practical standpoint, the “boss has ruled” mentality simply doesn’t work. It might get the job done for a while, but it will wear people out over time. We don’t get the best people have to offer because they will only do what has to be done to meet the “boss’s” expectation. But, I think there is a bigger reason. It’s wrong. At least from my Biblical perspective, we are all – regardless of title or position – ultimately to be servants of others.

 

“The culture the leader creates impacts the feedback a leader receives.” -Ron Edmondson

 

Myth number two says that if you’re not hearing complaints, everyone must be happy. Tell us a little more about this observation.

I’ve learned even in the best organizations and on the healthiest teams, the leader only knows what they know. And, people may be either hesitant to share what they are really feeling for fear, or retribution or they assume the leader already knows the problems. I go through seasons, as the leader, where I’m simply getting the required things done. I’m traveling a lot. I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate. If I’m not careful, I can assume silence means agreement. I must consistently be asking good questions to make sure I know the true pulse of the organization.

 

7 Myths of Leadership

Myth 1: A position will make me a leader.

Myth 2: If I am not hearing anyone complain, everyone must be happy.

Myth 3: I can lead everyone the same way.

Myth 4: Leadership and management are the same thing.

Myth 5: Being the leader makes me popular.

Myth 6: Leaders must have charisma and be extroverts.

Myth 7: Leaders accomplish by controlling others.

 

 

How to Lead Creatives

Tools to Become an Authentic Leader

The Power of Authenticity

Be yourself. Be true to you. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t put on false airs. Be authentic.

 

“The essence of authenticity is being yourself fully.” –Karissa Thacker

 

Most leaders hear this advice but don’t know what it means, what to do about it, or how it impacts everyday life in the office.

Becoming an authentic leader is more than a lofty goal. It’s an essential part of your effectiveness. My own experience is that it’s often authenticity that sets the great leaders apart. We don’t always know why we are inspired by certain individuals, but I think it is this characteristic that appeals to us at a deep level.

To learn more about this subject, I read Karissa Thacker’s terrific new book, The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self. Karissa is the founder and president of Strategic Performance Solutions. She is a management psychologist, focusing on human performance and satisfaction at work. I recently asked her to share some thoughts about her work on authenticity.

 

“There is no one alive who is more Youer than You.” –Dr. Seuss

 

What I particularly like about her new book is that, as the subtitle of the book suggests, she provides tools to help with the goal.

 

Lead with Authenticity

How would you define authenticity in leadership?

9781119153429.pdfBoth authenticity and leadership are important in defining authentic leadership. Leadership is about getting things done that are both difficult and important in the context of a specific organization or more broadly any human community. Authenticity adds another layer which is being true to your own nature AS you are getting things done that are difficult and important.

What’s the relationship between authenticity and leadership?
Our typical way of thinking about authenticity is to just be yourself, and it will all turn out better. Of course, be yourself. It sounds so simple. The first problem with that is you are not that simple. We humans are just not that simple. There is no one solid self like a concrete block. Our hardwired adaptive traits as humans mean that we behave differently under different situations and circumstances. Leadership requires this adaptability. But you have to find ways to communicate who you are as you are leading effectively. More importantly, you have to figure out ways to stay in touch with what is important to you as you are in the thick of getting things done. Paying attention to the inner game and outer game at the same time is a lot easier said than done. Said another way, it is easier to just be authentic or just figure out how to get things done that are difficult and important. But the daily question is how do we do both at the same time?

 

“Authenticity is knowing, and acting on, what is true and real inside yourself…” –Robert Terry

 

Why do you think there is currently so much interest in leadership authenticity?
Trust in big institutions like our government here in the US is low. I also think that the modern era poses some challenges with upping the ante on aspects of authenticity like transparency. Like it or not, we are in an age of transparency. The boundaries between private life and work or with private life in general are not what they used to be.

Leadership is never a value-neutral concept. To say someone is a leader means we have high expectations. A lot of this interest comes down to people wanting our leaders to step up and make things happen that are good for the whole. Any robust discussion of authenticity takes you fully into the thicket of human moral psychology as authenticity is so not a value-neutral construct.

 

“Fear is not your friend if you want a culture of authenticity.” –Karissa Thacker

 

Jim Carrey’s movie Liar Liar immediately came to mind when I read your Truth Serum Question. Would you share this exercise with us?

Power Is Not A Dirty Word

This is a guest post by Achim Nowak. Achim is the author of Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within and Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker. An internationally recognized authority on leadership influence, Achim has coached entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe.

Power is Not A Dirty Word

 


“Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.” -John Ray

 

Yes, I used to think power was a dirty word. I had it all mixed up with ego, bravado, narcissism. The Donald Trump kind of self-flaunting.  And I was spiritual, after all…

Then I had a wake-up call.

It happened during a retreat in Arizona. For the first time in my life I had taken time off to look at myself. I was in my mid-thirties, a successful theatre director in New York, recognized for my work, pretty sure that I “was somebody.” Until Reverend Mona, the facilitator of my desert experience, looked me squarely in the eye one day, held the look way too long, and uttered the words: “You need to stop being a doormat.”

Boy, she pissed me off.

When I stopped reeling from Mona’s remark, I quickly saw all the ways in which I truly was not very powerful at all. And here’s the part I instantly “got:” Because I did not have a clue about what personal power really was, my effectiveness with everyone I worked with was diminished. Day in, day out. Ouch.

 


“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” -Plato

 

I have since learned that all of us have different sources of power. I like to call them power plugs. I also know that exceptional leaders understand these sources of personal power and use them to great effect. Here is a Power Plugs model (created with psychologist Margarita Gurri, Ph.D.) which I use in my work with leaders at every organizational level. The notion of a plug implies that we can access these sources of power. Plug into them. It’s a very practical path to something that can seem elusive and overwhelming.

Our 5 Power Plugs

Achim