Leaders are loud, strong, bold and connected. Right? Maybe–but not necessarily. There are definitely some myths about who or what makes a good leader and how they are made. This post discusses four myths about leadership–and particularly project leadership–that simply aren’t true (or certainly not across the board).
The connected lead best. This can be correct, but not as a general statement. The truth of this statement depends on whether or not someone is connected to the right people. Having good connections can help knock down roadblocks, get the right resources, and help get issues resolved on tough projects. However, questionable connections can lead to bad decisions or shortcuts being taken that can impede a project’s progress.
The experienced lead best. Experience can often be considered an asset and can lead to good decision-making, more predictable performance, and quicker acceptance by those being lead. However, experience does not automatically make someone a better leader, nor does it automatically make them a better project manager. Experience doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been successful, have integrity, follow through to lead, or have whatever it takes to get the troops to go headfirst into battle with them. Experience does not by right equal respect, and a good leader should have the respect of those he/she is leading.
Men are better leaders. This is an unfortunate cultural stereotype that has–and still is–prevalent in all areas of the workplace, not solely leadership roles. The truth is, people make better leaders based on their individual qualities and abilities. The easy statement that men are better leaders only serves to limit the pool of highly skilled leaders available by under-representing women in this area.
Leaders are born as leaders. I don’t think anyone is a natural born leader, but that leadership is a learned process as well as a result of your environment and experiences. As my wife and I have watched our little ones grow we were usually right as to which ones had more leadership or dominating qualities, but that didn’t mean they were born to be leaders–we could see them develop into those personality types.
Leaders are often necessary, and good ones can be hard to find. Good, experienced project managers who can perform well under pressure, make necessary split second decisions with little information to go on, manage dollars and resources, and deliver projects on time are the kinds of leaders we need. How those leaders become accomplished and competent does not necessarily equate to the myths discussed above.
What are your thoughts on these leadership myths? What others would you add to the list?
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