Actions

Myths::Leadership

::concepts

First::leader    Journal::leaders    Title::group    Their::theory    Pages::members    Volume::issue

Myths Leadership, although largely talked about, has been described as one of the least understood concepts across all cultures and civilizations. Over the years, many researchers have stressed the prevalence of this misunderstanding, stating that the existence of several flawed assumptions, or myths, concerning leadership often interferes with individuals' conception of what leadership is all about (Gardner, 1965; Bennis, 1975).<ref>Gardner, J. W. (1965). Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society. New York: Harper and Row.</ref><ref>Bennis, W. G. (1975). Where have all the leaders gone? Washington, DC: Federal Executive Institute.</ref>

Leadership is innate

According to some, leadership is determined by distinctive dispositional characteristics present at birth (e.g., extraversion; intelligence; ingenuity). However, according to Forsyth (2009) there is evidence to show that leadership also develops through hard work and careful observation.<ref name=Forsyth>Forsyth, D. R. (2009). Group dynamics (5th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.</ref> Thus, effective leadership can result from nature (i.e., innate talents) as well as nurture (i.e., acquired skills).

Leadership is possessing power over others

Although leadership is certainly a form of power, it is not demarcated by power over people – rather, it is a power with people that exists as a reciprocal relationship between a leader and his/her followers (Forsyth, 2009).<ref name=Forsyth/> Despite popular belief, the use of manipulation, coercion, and domination to influence others is not a requirement for leadership. In actuality, individuals who seek group consent and strive to act in the best interests of others can also become effective leaders (e.g., class president; court judge).

Leaders are positively influential

The validity of the assertion that groups flourish when guided by effective leaders can be illustrated using several examples. For instance, according to Baumeister et al. (1988), the bystander effect (failure to respond or offer assistance) that tends to develop within groups faced with an emergency is significantly reduced in groups guided by a leader.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Moreover, it has been documented that group performance,<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> creativity,<ref>Zaccaro, S. J.; & Banks, D. J. (2001). "Leadership, vision, and organizational effectiveness". In S. J. Zaccaro and R. J. Klimoski (Editors), The Nature of Organizational Leadership: Understanding the Performance Imperatives Confronting Today's Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.</ref> and efficiency<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> all tend to climb in businesses with designated managers or CEOs. However, the difference leaders make is not always positive in nature. Leaders sometimes focus on fulfilling their own agendas at the expense of others, including his/her own followers (e.g., Pol Pot; Josef Stalin). Leaders who focus on personal gain by employing stringent and manipulative leadership styles often make a difference, but usually do so through negative means.<ref>Lipman-Blumen, J. (2005) The Allure of Toxic Leaders. New York: Oxford. University Press Inc.</ref>

Leaders entirely control group outcomes

In Western cultures it is generally assumed that group leaders make all the difference when it comes to group influence and overall goal-attainment. Although common, this romanticized view of leadership (i.e., the tendency to overestimate the degree of control leaders have over their groups and their groups' outcomes) ignores the existence of many other factors that influence group dynamics.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> For example, group cohesion, communication patterns among members, individual personality traits, group context, the nature or orientation of the work, as well as behavioral norms and established standards influence group functionality in varying capacities. For this reason, it is unwarranted to assume that all leaders are in complete control of their groups' achievements.

All groups have a designated leader

Despite preconceived notions, not all groups need have a designated leader. Groups that are primarily composed of women,<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> are limited in size, are free from stressful decision-making,<ref name=guastello>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> or only exist for a short period of time (e.g., student work groups; pub quiz/trivia teams) often undergo a diffusion of responsibility, where leadership tasks and roles are shared amongst members (Schmid Mast, 2002; Berdahl & Anderson, 2007; Guastello, 2007).

Group members resist leaders

Although research has indicated that group members' dependence on group leaders can lead to reduced self-reliance and overall group strength,<ref name=Forsyth/> most people actually prefer to be led than to be without a leader (Berkowitz, 1953).<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> This "need for a leader" becomes especially strong in troubled groups that are experiencing some sort of conflict. Group members tend to be more contented and productive when they have a leader to guide them. Although individuals filling leadership roles can be a direct source of resentment for followers, most people appreciate the contributions that leaders make to their groups and consequently welcome the guidance of a leader (Stewart & Manz, 1995).<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>


Leadership sections
Intro  Theories  Styles  Performance  Traits  The ontological-phenomenological model for leadership  Contexts  Historical views   Myths   Action-oriented environments  Critical thought  Executives   See also    References   

Myths
PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Theories
<<>>