Everything You’ve Learned About Leadership is Wrong!

Reason One: Much traditional leadership training focuses on “winning friends and influencing others” types of techniques. While these traditional leadership techniques can be of great value in helping individuals get ahead as individuals, they are not focused on getting organizations operating optimally. The true goal of exceptional leadership is to get the teams being lead to operate exceptionally, not on maintaining the leader in a winning and influential position.  Admittedly, having an exceptional team likely insures maintaining a winning and influential position. Unfortunately the converse is not true, having a winning and influential position does not imply having an exceptional team. Further without an exceptional team no matter how many friends you win and influence, the raw numbers of an unexceptional team will eventually eliminate the winning and influential position.

Reason Two: Many leaders do not have exceptional personal skills and many with exceptional personal skills are not leaders. There is not a one-to-one correlation between “winning friends and influencing skills” with leadership.

Reason Three: There are dozens, if not hundreds, of leadership models. In 1991, one survey counted 65 different Leadership classification systems. They cannot all be right. Undoubtedly they all have significant flaws or else there would a greater sense of agreement in the field of leadership.

Reason Four: One person’s view of a great leader is another’s view of a doofus put into a position of power via cronyism or nepotism. Look to politics for examples.

Reason Five: Most organizations have a constant flux of leaders running through their organizations. If leadership were a well understood skill there would be no need for significant and constant change.

Personal skills that enable winning friends and influencing others are valuable. That is why there is a partial correlation with leadership. This partial correlation has caused a confounding of “winning friends and influencing people” with the true meaning of exceptional leadership which is the ability to create exceptional teams.

Detailed Examples

Reason Six: As an example, motivation is typically misinterpreted as a leadership skill. However, no matter how good a motivational orator a specific leader is, it is highly unlikely that anyone would show up the next day of work if it were not for the true motivation that HR provides through salary and other benefits.

Reason Seven:  Further, motivational speeches are often looked at by those on the receiving end as wastes of time and manipulative. Many employees are sophisticated and are well aware of motivational techniques. However, their motivation is to get their jobs done as efficiently as possible, pick up their true motivation from HR (paycheck and benefits), and then go off to do their own personal activities. They are more interested in, and would benefit more from, receiving an effective set of tools to get their jobs done more efficiently

Reason Eight: Counter arguments, like those given for motivation immediately above, can be found for many other personal skills that are often mistaken for leadership skills. This is because everyone interacts differently, and further, everyone has different opinions of what proper interaction is.

The only leadership skills that correlate to the creation of exceptional teams are those that are oriented around organization and how organizations function.

Why This Mis-interpretation of Leadership Evolved

Traditional leadership analysis has focused on individual leaders and correlations between many different individual leaders.  However, leadership is not about the individual leaders, leadership is about the leader in the context of the organization.

Because of the complexity of analysis, simplifications are always made. Unfortunately in the case of leadership, the context of the analysis of leadership, the organization has been typically thrown out. Without that context the only correlations that could be made were on individual or personal skills, which missed the mark.

Understanding Leadership in the Context of the Organization

As any organization is made up of many entities, in order to optimize the organization the primary key is optimizing how information and problem solving flows throughout the organization. The ability to do this optimization is true leadership.

Management, organization, extent, culture, and vision are the basic categories of information and problem solving flow within organizations, and as such, are the real principles of leadership.

As an example, imagine an intelligent entity in a computation system that needs to get a job done (this is what an employee or team member is minus all of the interpersonal/psychological/baby-sitting stuff). What does that entity need to get things done. As mentioned earlier motivation (food-energy -sustenance) is handled separately by HR. In order to get its job done the entity needs to know how to communicate with other entities, what part of the problem it is solving, what parts of the problem other entities are working on, what the larger vision is, how deep to go into the part of the problem it is working on, and general methodologies to use in solving problems. Upon deeper investigation, all of this can, in one way or another, be described as management, organization, extent, culture and vision.

ITMM Leadership encompasses the context of organization, which includes training in how to optimize management, organization, extent, culture, and vision within your organization. Training also includes organizational structure types and properties, as well as how to track and measure, and tune and advance leadership and organizational structures within your organization.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Understand that leadership is separate from “winning friends and influencing” techniques.
  2. Understand how history has confounded “winning friends and influencing people” with leadership.
  3. Understand that optimizing the information and problem solving flow in organizations is leadership.
  4. Learn how to optimize leadership in your organization via Leadership Improvement Training from IT Maturity, Inc.