Leadership is a rare skill. Although great leaders may be rare, everyone has leadership potential and many people show leadership every day. What’s more, people may play modest roles in one slice of their lives and lead in another.
Leaders are born, not made. You can learn to lead just as you can learn to read, cook or play hockey. All it takes is practice.
Leaders are charismatic. Some are; most aren’t. Personal magnetism goes only so far. Nothing in terms of appearance, personality or style sets leaders apart. They are short and tall, wordy and quiet, dressed for success and dressed for failure.
Leadership exists only at the top of an organization. Every job is potentially a leadership position.
Leaders control, direct, prod, manipulate. Probably the most damaging myth of all, this one sees leadership as nothing more than the exercise of power. To the contrary, leadership is empowerment.
William Hewitt, who took over John Deere and Co. in the 1950s when it was a small farm implements firm, turned the company into a powerhouse because, as one employee said, “Hewitt made us learn how good we were.”
— Adapted from Leaders, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Harper & Row.
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