As we’ve discussed leadership over the past few weeks I felt it appropriate to address a few misconceptions that people often have about what leadership really is. It’s common for people to equate a title or an assigned leadership role to being a good leader, when in fact, the title itself tells very little about how much influence a person actually has. Here are a few qualities that often get mistaken for good leadership:
A High Position or Title
One of the biggest misunderstandings that people often have is that you need a title or high position in order to have influence and lead well. This is simply untrue. A good leader can get people to follow them regardless of whether or not they have a powerful title. If you can’t lead well when you’re without a powerful position, you will struggle to lead well when you do have a powerful position.
A High Level of Knowledge or Intellect
Having the ability to think at a very high level doesn’t equate to good leadership skills. Remember, leadership is simply the ability to influence others. If no one is following you, your ability to be a powerful thinker will do nothing but leave you with a lot of dead information. There are plenty of brilliant scientists and philosophers that have absolutely no ability to influence others to follow them. Don’t mistake intelligence for leadership ability.
Good Management Skills
Another big misconception is the difference between leadership and management. There are plenty of people who are great at maintaining the trajectory that someone else has set but have no ability to change that direction in a positive way. A good system of organization can only do so much. In order to get others to change course in a positive fashion, you need to have the ability to influence those around you. Management skills alone will not provide that level of influence.