Mark Shead asked:
Many people assume that if someone is successful it is because they have good leadership skills. Some people assume that if a business is successful it is because it has good leaders. Leadership isn’t something that is particularly easy to pass on to other people. Sometimes a company is successful because a past leader was very skilled as a leader and the current leader simply has kept things running the same as before.
Great leadership is a rare skill. It is much more rare than most people realize. For most people it doesn’t come naturally. It is amazing how many organizations are successful even though they have only marginally competent people leading them. Many times this is because the structure of the organization helps make up for a leaders short comings. Sometimes it is because a particularly talented staff that makes up for the leaders deficiencies.
While great leadership skills can make someone successful, the inverse is not true. Being successful doesn’t make you a good leader. If you are looking for leaders to learn from make sure you are looking for people who actually have good leadership skills and not just someone who is successful. You can’t assume that someone is a good leader just because they have had success. Many times people try to emulate people who have had success and try to follow their leadership styles. While this might be a good thing people often end up mimicking the bad habits of individuals.
Don’t assume that someone’s leadership style is effective just because they are successful. Many times they may be successful in spite of their leadership skills not because of their leadership skills. A good organizational structure can often hide someone’s poor leadership skills. Many times leaders are simply riding the wave of momentum from an earlier success that their leadership skills may have had very little part in actually creating.
Some people who are perceived as being great leaders have a huge entourage of people around them to insulate the organization from their poor leadership skills. These people act as a buffer to prevent the deficit of leadership skills from having a negative impact on the organization.
By carefully evaluating the leaders around you, you can teach yourself to discern who is successful because of their leadership skills and who is successful in spite of their leadership skills. If you find yourself emulating leaders around you, make sure that they are leaders who have true leadership skills and not those who just appear to have leadership skill simply because they are in a successful position.