The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Debunked!

 In Leadership, Leadership Development, leadership training, Leadership trust, Rick Conlow

The greatest leadership myth is not just about the American culture. It is a phenomenon that has infiltrated leadership thought globally. It impacts us all. We see the negative side effects of it most prevalently in the media. Every day another leader bites the dust because of indiscretion and receives infamous publicity. Why? What is the underlying cause of these failures? Here are five examples that give clues. You undoubtedly can add examples of your own:

  • The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Debunked!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 does not want fracking near his home, but his company supports it worldwide.
  • The CEO has his name on everything he owns. If you look at his website the company does not recognize employees at all.
  • A CEO who spent $200M on his home and had a lake created to get to it.
  • Another CEO said, “I am all for employee involvement as long as they come up with what I want.”

The Greatest Leadership Myth: Ego Driven Leaders

Far too many leaders let their ego get in the way and they have three self-focused strategies to:

  1. Take power for personal recognition and advancement.
  2. Control and manipulate people for their own means and agenda.
  3. Strive to get others to serve them to gain what they want when they want it.

The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Debunked!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.” 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 is not working. Here are three survey examples:

  • Gallup poll shows that members of Congress in the US are the second lowest rated profession.
  • Pew Research shows that 70% of people do not believe business executives add very much value to society.
  • A Survey of Trust in the Workplace found that half of employees lack trust in their senior management, and they are the least trusted group in companies.

The Greatest Leadership Myth: Admired Leaders

Who are the most admired leaders? They are not 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, like Warren Buffet, realize that authentic leadership is about living modestly, serving others and helping others succeed. In business terms this equals greater success and profitability for a company. Research reports demonstrate that higher employee productivity and innovation comes from greater employee satisfaction and loyalty. Servant oriented leaders achieve this through trust, openness, and ownership.

The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Debunked!Leaders who take this approach use three other-focused strategies to:

  1. Empower people to be all they can be.
  2. Free people up to use and develop their talents to the fullest.
  3. Serve people – help them achieve, give them hope, security and opportunity.

Pulling It All Together

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 was not about injustices done to him or getting what he wanted in life. It was about his country and the people living in it. He survived years in prison and eventually became President of South Africa. Also, he pulled his racially divided nation together through the power of sport. By inspiring his rugby team to reach a higher plane of excellence and purpose, this lowly team won the Rugby World Cup in 1995. This process of rugby teambuilding led to inspirational nation building.

Leaders like Mandela, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, 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. Leaders with vision and a heart know it is all about the people they serve. 

The Greatest Leadership Myth Ever-Debunked!Why not join us on LinkedIn for the Servant Leadership revolution that is taking place about the power of people? Go here: SERVANT LEADERSHIP TODAY. THANK YOU!

In addition, see our RealTime Learning & Training leadership and personal development website–over 250 resources. Micro-learning and career advancement at your fingertips!

Finally, see Rick’s newest book. The 5 Dynamics of Servant Leadership: How to accelerate your career and inspire your team!  See his newest self-directed leadership training: 21 Servant Leadership Training Lessons.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

Have a question? Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Enroll today & receive the Superstar Leadership Performance Plan!

Superstar Leadership Blog

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Rick Conlow will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.


There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Rick Conlow will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.

Download your copy of How to Create a High Performance Team!