The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Busted!
The greatest leadership myth is not just about the American culture. It’s a phenomenon that has infiltrated leadership thought globally. We see the negative side effects of it show up in the media. Almost every day another leader bites the dust because of an indiscretion and receives infamous publicity. Why? What’s the underlying cause for most of these failures? Here are a few examples that give clues. You undoubtedly can add some of your own:
- A CEO who cut employee benefits because the company’s insurance costs rose when two employees had babies born with complications that cost a million dollars each for care. He has an estimated net worth of $80M.
- A CEO who doesn’t want fracking near his home, but his company supports it worldwide.
- The CEO who has his name on everything he owns, and if you look at his website employees are nowhere to be found.
- A CEO who spent $200M on his home and had a lake created to get to it.
- The CEO who said, “I am all for employee involvement as long as they come up with what I want.”
The Greatest Leadership Myth Busted
Far too many leaders let their ego get in the way and they have three self-focused strategies to:
- Take power for personal recognition and advancement.
- Control and manipulate people for their own means and agenda.
- Strive to get others to serve them to gain what they want when they want it.
Even the dictionary agrees. It says leadership is about direction, command, authoritativeness, control, superintendence, and administration. The bottom-line for these leaders is greed and selfishness. As one CEO explained to his leadership team on the deck of his new home. “Do you see all of this land by the river? If you work really hard, one day it will be all mine.” The end result of this we all know. Leaders like this engender distrust, resentment, and resistance in people. Or, in business terms poor employee engagement, high turnover, lower productivity and bad customer service. Pay attention leaders it isn’t working. Here are a few survey examples:
- A Gallup poll shows that members of Congress in the US are the second lowest rated profession.
- Pew Research shows that 70% of people don’t believe business executives add very much value to society.
- A Survey of Trust in the Workplace found that nearly half of employees lack trust in their senior management and they are the least trusted group in companies.
Who are the most admired leaders? They aren’t the ones who have the biggest homes, scroll their name on the business, do one thing and say another, or treat people disrespectfully. True leaders realize that authentic leadership is about serving others and helping others succeed. In business terms this equals greater success and profitability for a company. Many research reports demonstrate that higher employee productivity and innovation comes from greater employee satisfaction and loyalty. This is achieved through trust, openness and ownership.
A Proven Option to the Greatest Leadership Myth
Leaders who take this approach use three other-focused strategies to:
- Empower people to be all they can be.
- Free people up to use and develop their talents to the fullest.
- Serve people – help them achieve, give them hope, security and opportunity.
Nelson Mandela understood. He cared. He said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” It wasn’t about injustices done to him or getting what he wanted in life. It was about his country and the people living in it. Surviving years of prison, he became President of South Africa. He pulled his racially divided nation together through the power of sport. He motivated his rugby team to reach a higher plane of excellence and purpose, and this lowly team won the Rugby World Cup in 1995. His process of rugby teambuilding led to inspirational nation building.
Leaders like Mandela, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jesus, Aung San Suu Kyi, Abraham Lincoln, Cesar Chavez, and Mother Teresa; set a whole new standard to strive for if we learn from it. The greatest leadership myth ever is that leadership is about the leader. Leader’s with vision and a heart know it’s all about the people they serve.
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