Are some people born leaders, and the rest of us are fated to simply follow them in awe of their natural skills? Or is leadership something we all can achieve? Dr. Ronald E. Riggio, an expert in organizational psychology, discusses the truth and the myth of leadership in
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Myth No. 1: Leaders Are Born, Not Made
Dr. Riggio cites studies with identical twins concluding that leadership qualities are about one-third nature and two-thirds nurture. Therefore, nurture is more important than nature, and leaders are more made than born.
This is highly relevant in the workplace. Leadership development programs are a good investment for companies and individuals alike. If you wish to get ahead by developing your leadership skills, then by all means enroll in appropriate classes. If you are in a decision-making position at your company, invest in or encourage your colleagues to invest in leadership development for employees.
Myth No. 2: Leaders Lead, Followers Follow
Dr. Riggio explains that leaders and followers do not do completely different things. Rather, leaders and followers must be work together toward a common goal. Nobody leads without the consent of the followers. In some cases, “followers” work together as “co-leaders,” meaning they operate via democracy or consensus toward meeting common goals. Skills such as communication and acceptance of responsibility are important for those in both leadership and followership roles.
Myth No. 3: Leaders and Managers Need Different Skill Sets
Wrong again! One theory is that leaders are innovators and managers are good at overseeing mundane tasks. That may have been true at one time, but in today’s work environment, successful leaders and managers are using the same skill sets. They both set the direction and tone of the workplace, keep the group focused on the common goal, and serve as role models for the rest of the crew. They must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills in order to keep everyone on track and ameliorate any problems that may crop up. Leaders and managers both need to be motivators.
If you want to become a leader in your organization but are not confident that you currently possess the necessary skills, do not give up. Leadership may be learned, and some of the skills you possess as a worker will continue to be necessary as you work your way up.
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