The Myth of Leadership


What's a leader?Leaders and managers don't change people: people change themselves. All that an effective leader or manager can do is get the right conditions in place for effective change (for the better) to happen. In political terms, it's the difference between power and authority. Power is where, when someone says "X will happen", people say "We must do X"; authority is where, when someone says "X will happen", people say "X ought to happen". Having authority is better than having power in the long run.

What are the tell-tale signs of effective leadership? Well, a sign of ineffective leadership is the absence of change.There are three key indications of effective leadership:

1. Some team members rebel, argue for the status quo, and resist the changes you're trying to bring about.

2. Eventually, they leave. Or they join the 3rd group...

3. Some people thrive in the new conditions you're establishing.

You need to exercise caution in interpretation:

  • the status quo may work perfectly well;
  • people may leave because you're a bully;
  • and the incompetents may be the ones who are thriving.

So there needs to be other signs as well, such as:

1. More support from senior management and co-workers.

2. Greater interest in taking courses in ICT (education technology).

3. Improving grades.

4. More respect for the tech facilities.

And other indications in the same vein.

So, if things look like they're starting to unravel, you may actually be succeeding!

This is an updated version of an article which was first published on 3rd August 2007. The image is (c) barunpatro.