There seems to be an everlasting debate about leadership and whether it can be taught or if it’s some inherent trait you’re born with – think how often you’ve heard someone say “they’re a born leader”.
It’s also become big business. Business schools have made leadership a huge focus of their curriculum and market themselves as builders of the next generation of leaders.
Yet, when you strip away all the terminology as well as the psychological definitions and descriptions of a leader you’re left with a very simple concept: leaders have followers.
This isn’t a conscious choice – you don’t decide to lead or become a leader because you tell people you’re one. You’re by definition a leader when people follow you and it’s got little to do with what you learned in a classroom or how you were born.
Given our misunderstanding of leadership, it leads to all sorts of challenges at the corporate level. A common mistake that’s made is to equate skill or your ability to do a great job with effective leadership potential – simply being proficient in your work isn’t synonymous with having the skills to lead a team.
What’s more, simply by designating individuals as leaders within a company doesn’t make them a leader either. Do you follow your current boss because they’re a leader or because you report to them? There’s a big difference.
It’s incumbent on companies to understand this distinction and promote and entrust their teams with the right leader. Sometimes your best copywriter is just that – your best copywriter. On occasion they’ll also make the best choice as a leader of an organization, but that’s not always the case.
You’ll find leaders wherever there are followers.