Lie 9: Leadership is a Thing

This is a video excerpt from The Freethinking Leader Coalition, unpacking the ninth lie in Marcus and Ashley’s upcoming book, Nine Lies about Work. To view the full video, read book excerpts, and engage with the authors, join here by pre-ordering the book. To learn more about The Freethinking Leader Coalition, click here.

“Leadership” has become a commodity – a $15 billion one in the US, at that – that we believe is necessary for becoming a leader. And although it’s definition varies company by company, it’s clear that leadership is made up of a list of pre-existing traits and characteristics. Things like “vision,” “strategic thinking,” “business acumen,” and “goal orientation” are all often deemed necessary for one to become a leader.

Companies believe that leadership is definable in advance, and independent of the person doing the leading. But when you look at the real world of actual leaders, the first thing that strikes you is how different they are from one another. No single leader at your – or any – organization will possess every single competency laid out before them. If you take all the leaders at your company, as a group they might possess every competency that is supposedly necessary for leadership – but individually, it’s certain that no single person possesses all of them. There is one thing that all the best leaders share, and you won't find it in a single competency model. Click To Tweet

More importantly, it doesn’t mean that the people who acquire the competencies they lack will outperform the leaders who don’t.

The only thing that the best leaders share is followers. The best leaders are able to give their people the confidence to follow them into the uncertainty of the future. They all have that in common. But the way in which they instill this confidence varies, leader by leader. Which means that “leadership” isn’t something we can define in isolation of the leader doing it.

There are leaders, and there are followers. And if you look at the leaders, each one will be leading in a slightly, but importantly different way.

What else do the best leaders share? Order Nine Lies about Work and join the Freethinking Leader Coalition today to find out.