One of the best ways to understand principles is to understand their opposites. John Maxwell — author of the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership — does a masterful job of explaining the leadership principle of influence through the five myths about leadership:
- The Management Myth: Management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. Influential leadership is about influencing people to follow.
- The Entrepreneur Myth: People may be buying what somebody is selling (or saying), but they are not necessarily buying into his leadership or vision.
- The Knowledge Myth: Mental superiority does not necessarily equate to leadership.
- The Pioneer Myth: The one in front is not necessarily the leader. The leader is the one with the vision that people want to follow.
- The Position Myth: The greatest misunderstanding about leadership is that people think it’s based on position. Maxwell quotes Stanley Huffty, “It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”
Update: A good friend of mine pointed out that the myths I list are actually facts — the myths should be falsehoods. He’s right, I wrote the statements as facts, not myths. Here’s Take 2 on my interpretation of Maxwell’s five myths (written as myths):
- Leading and managing are one and the same
- All entrepreneurs are leaders
- Those people who possess knowledge or intelligence are leaders
- Anyone who is out in front of a crowd is a leader
- Leadership is based on position