Don’t Believe The Hype – The Leadership Myth


By Will Harrison, Contributing Writer – Are leaders born or bred? There’s a common myth that you are either born a leader or not. Well put me on the record as stating that no one is born a leader. I’ll even go a step further. Most of what we think is natural leadership really isn’t. Hear me out before you dismiss my idea. In this month’s article, I’m going to lay out my case against the ‘Leadership Myth’ and if successful, your thoughts on leadership will change.

Leadership is Not Sexy – We all fantasize about being the boss and calling all the shots. Who hasn’t envisioned themselves in the shoes of President Obama or Oprah Winfrey taking charge and living large. If it were only that simple. Sure they enjoy and have the respect and admiration of millions of people around the world. However, I suspect they would be the first to tell you how hard it is to be a leader. To be a good leader, you first have to realize it’s a journey with many peaks and valleys. Many of your decisions will be questioned by those close to you and those not so close to you. You will face unforeseen challenges that will test your leadership. You may even question your own strategy. No matter what, you have to understand that leadership is not always sexy, but it is always needed.

Power vs. Leadership – Some people confuse power with leadership. What’s the difference you may ask? Power is control over people. Leadership requires taking responsibility for the people who work for you. See the difference. Someone with power can demand almost anything from a person while a leader has to earn the respect of others. Leaders can’t accomplish anything meaningful without the cooperation and support of their team. Are you using a power model to get things done? Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you only changed your approach. Great leaders respect the power they have been given and never abuse it.

No Born Leaders – No that’s not an error in the heading. Leaders are not born. They are developed over time through experience, success, defeat, and self-reflection. What do the experts say? According to Steward Friedman, the founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, he believes leaders are indeed developed and not born.

One of the myths that I am trying to bust…is that you are born with this capacity to be great. Not true. It is a matter of, yes skill. There is a lot of luck. But there is also persistence, discipline, passion, and courage to pursue that which is most important to the people around you.

This is exciting news for those of us who want to become great leaders. With the proper amount of work and dedication, we can all become great leaders in our own right. It might take some of us longer than others, but we all can get there.

Okay, it’s settled. We all can become great leaders if we are willing to put in the work.

Will Harrison is Principal Consultant at West Arlington Consulting Group. West Arlington focuses on helping businesses improve the customer experience and reduce business cost. You can contact Will at

Source: Will Yakowicz ‘Why Great Leaders Are Made, Not Born” Oct 14, 2014


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