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Leadership: Debunking the Myths and Learning to Lead

NCJ Number
Community Corrections Report Volume: 9 Issue: 6 Dated: September/October 2002 Pages: 83-84,95,96
William D. Burrell
Carl Reddick
Date Published
September 2002
4 pages
This article identifies and debunks five myths related to leadership and then reviews six published books that provide current and persuasive evidence that the myths of leadership are just myths along with six perspectives that provide detailed analyses and recommendations.
In 1985, authors Bennis and Nanus published, Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge. Presented in this article are five myths identified and debunked in this published work and include: (1) leadership is a rare skill; (2) leaders are born, not made; (3) leaders are charismatic; (4) leadership exists only at the top; and (5) the leader controls, directs, prods, and manipulates. These myths are still believed by many in society and restrict capable people from exercising true leadership. This article continues with a review of six books published over the past year that provide excellent guidance and a wealth of information for the aspiring leader, provide current and persuasive evidence that the myths are just myths, and provide numerous examples of leadership from real life. The books demonstrate how the field of leadership studies has advanced with detailed analyses and recommendations from six different perspectives: (1) collaborative leadership; (2) side-by-side leadership; (3) leading up; (4) quiet leadership; (5) emotionally intelligent leadership; and (6) reaction to leadership. All six books provide convincing evidence to support Bennis and Nanus’s demythologizing of leadership. Taking the place of myths are five core beliefs about the practice of leadership that include: (1) leadership is a skill being exercised everyday by people throughout society; (2) leadership can be learned; (3) leadership is different from, and not dependent upon, charisma; (4) leadership exists throughout organizations and is exercised by people at all levels; and (5) the effective leader uses emotions to inspire, motivate, enable, and empower people. References