A few days back, you told me about your leaders. “They do everything so fast,” you told me. “They are always first in reading, writing, and eating. Everything!”
Since I did not see the passion of a hero worshipper on your face, I gently said: “That’s nice, but that is something even you and the others can do if you put your minds to it. Besides, these leaders of yours won’t be sent directly to the tenth standard for having such extraordinary abilities, will they? They have to continue studying with the rest of you. They will go to Class II just like you.”
The way I see it, you appear to have imbibed the following erroneous views about leadership.
“Leaders are invincible beings who do not have to comply with the laws that govern the rest of us lesser beings. They know everything, they can do everything, and they are always right. And of course, they always take part in competitions and win prizes (This is important!!).”
And here is the most dangerous view of them all.
“Of course, I can never be a leader because I do not know as much as those leaders do. Besides, I never participate in competitions, take my own time to chew my food, and oh well, I am just not like them (I do not talk as fast and as much as they do!).”
I would love to bust this leadership myth for you. In the first place, you need not necessarily have a leader at this point of your life. If ever you choose to follow any leader, you should first understand the following leadership myths.
Myth #1: All Knowing
True leaders are gentle, humble people who understand their limitations very well. They know they do not possess all the skill sets under the sun. They are aware that they need the help of others to become truly successful. They know that they need the knowledge and expertise that others possess.
And this is precisely what gives them the extraordinary ability to build great teams of brilliant people who can collectively work towards the achievement of a common goal.
Myth #2: Attracts the Limelight
True leaders never seek publicity. On the contrary, the best of them are simple, quiet, unassuming people who are least interested in awards or accolades.
They can afford to be so because their focus is on the success of their organization or team, not personal glory.
Myth #3: The Born Leader
Nobody is born a leader. In fact, leadership is a skill that has to be painstakingly acquired. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to master. If you tell me that a seven-year-old is a “born leader” with “exceptional leadership abilities,” I will laugh in your face. Anybody can learn to become a leader if they want to, but it takes time.
Myth #4: Strong, tough, well-built, good-looking people
Looks may play an important role in the success of a romantic relationship, but they cannot convince anybody to look up to you as a leader.
People are more interested in a leader’s skills and his/her ability to help them realize their potential than in his/her looks.
Myth #5: The Controller
Whenever a leader uses force or control and manipulative techniques to retain his/her followers, he/she ceases to become a leader and instead becomes a tyrant everybody loathes.
True leaders never force anybody to follow them. In fact, people choose to follow leaders because they are convinced about their abilities to help them develop skills and achieve goals.
Myth #6: Highly Educated
Education is in no way related to one’s leadership skills. A person need not become a great leader just because he/she is educated. In fact, people hardly acquire leadership skills just by going to school or college.
The “leaders” one sees at school level are just a small group of students selected by school authorities for reasons best known to themselves. The major duty of these “leaders” is to shout at their peers and make them sit quietly in class.
Myth #7: They Do All the Important Work
They do not necessarily do all the important or hard work. In fact, true leaders are those people who are exceptionally good at identifying the right person for a job and effectively sharing duties and responsibilities so that goals are achieved on time.
Myth #8: They Can Do Anything.
No, they can’t! They are not above the rules of the institution or organization and the laws of the land. They have absolutely no right to insult their followers, bully their juniors, break the rules, or dodge the laws.
Leaders have no right to insult or harass team members. Leaders cannot shout at, verbally abuse, and physically assault their followers. Leaders cannot force their followers to harass someone they do not like.
On the contrary, true leaders strive to convert their followers into leaders by helping them realize their potential.
You need not put with bad behavior from a leader simply because everybody around you considers him/her to be a leader. The moment you do so, you are creating a tyrant or a dictator and you will have to pay for it dearly in the future.
Before you follow anyone or accept him/her as a leader, make sure that they are really leaders and deserve your respect.
Or better still, be a leader yourself! Live a life that will be a source of strength and inspiration to others!