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Leadership Myth #2: Leaders rely on formal authority

Do you think of a leader as someone who issues orders for others to follow? Another common myth about leadership is that it relies on rank and rules. And come to think about leadership, we usually listen and do as our superior orders because they have authority over us, not because out of respect or willingness do so. However, true leader I believe are those who genuinely care about those around them, regardless of their rank or position, therefore others follow them because they want to, not because they have to. This type of leadership usually reciprocated with harmony and respect from the whole team, a team which willing to go anything for each other.

Today, leadership isn’t about commands from the executive suite. Organizations tend to be flatter and less hierarchical than in the past, and many leaders operate with little formal authority, in addition, career progress most of the time is no longer going upwards but rather going sideways.. Instead, a leader gets diverse groups of people to overcome conflicting beliefs and to work together to achieve a shared vision.

The most effective leaders use advocacy and not formal authority to get their work accomplished. They know how to:

  • Engage people and groups in pursuing common goals
  • Listen to and grasp multiple perspectives
  • Build diverse coalitions of supporters
  • Seek expertise and feedback to refine their strategies

In times, formal authority at times are necessary. Formal authority works best when it’s used sparingly. There are times when it’s absolutely necessary, however; for example:

  • Fast, decisive action is required to handle a crisis.
  • Your group is in danger of violating laws or core company values.
  • After significant debate, your group remains divided on a course of action. You, as the leader, need to make a decision to break the stalemate and move everyone forward.

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