The Internet is littered with countless articles providing tips about how to be a leader, or how to be a more successful leader. The issue is that leadership is too broad of a concept. It is not a cake that anyone can replicate by just following the recipe. There are too many styles of leadership present. In fact, I would argue that many people who would not classify themselves as leaders actually do take on many leadership roles in their lifetime. A leader is not just an executive in a corporation. Leaders are parents, amateur sports coaches, or anyone who tries to encourage others to follow their example.
Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones attempt to bust four leadership myths in their article, “Why should anyone be led by me?” They propose one myth about leadership is that “Everyone can be a leader”, which they then state is not true. I strongly disagree with this statement. As I mentioned above, there are too many styles of leadership in the world. I feel that it is wrong for Goffee and Jones to issue such a broad statement over all leadership types. I fear that statements such as this may strongly discourage people from trying to demonstrate or develop any sort of leadership attribute in their lives.
Instead, the authors should have been more specific with this statement. For example, they probably meant to phrase the myth as, “Everyone can be a business executive” or “Every employee can be a manager”. That is something that I would agree with; I do not believe that every employee in a company has the skills to be an effective leader of a business unit or team. Being a leader of this type requires not only great skill in a business function, such as sales, finance, operations, etc., but also a good deal of knowledge about the business strategy and the business environment and softer skills such as how to get the best results from their employees.
The point that I am attempting to make, despite my post-inebriation brain, is that everyone can be a leader in his or her own style. We need to stop equating leadership specifically to senior executives in corporations. Everyone demonstrates leadership in countless situations everyday. Lets encourage everyone to build their leadership skills and practice them in their own unique and personal way.