The loudest lead best. While it may be true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, it is not true that the loudest lead best. When I was the director of a small kids youth group, I was also trying to lead the game time as well. I recognized that someone else – one of my leaders assigned to a smaller group of kids – had a nice loud voice. He became my game leader. I was organized and had the director skills, but the loud person needed to be used for leading the games and calming down very excitable six and seven year olds.
The connected lead best. This can be true, but not as a general statement. It depends on whether or not they are connected to the right people. Having good connections can help knock down roadblocks and get the right resources and help get issues resolved on tough projects. But questionable connections can lead to bad decisions or shortcuts being taken that can eventually kill a project.
The experienced lead best. While experience is nice and can lead to good decision-making, more predictable performance (but not always), and quicker acceptance by those being lead, experience does not always make someone a better leader. And it doesn’t necessarily make them a better project manager, either. Experience doesn’t mean they’ve been successful, doesn’t mean they have the integrity and follow through to lead and it doesn’t mean they have whatever it takes to get the troops to go headfirst into battle with them. What I guess I’m trying to say is that experience does not equal respect. And a good leader should have the respect of those he is leading.
Men are better leaders. Hardly. I don’t want to sound sexist here. And I often write articles with him or he rather than he/she or him/her but I do so only to save time and words. If I were a woman, I’d probably always write she or her. I know my readers get it so I’m not too worried (and I figure if my editor cares, they’ll change it). Women are often more organized thinkers and are better at multi-tasking then men are...in my opinion and from what I’ve read. I’m not saying woman are better leaders either…I’m going to say it’s a toss.
Leaders are born. Again, I don’t think anyone is a natural born leader. I think it is more of a learned process and also a result of your environment growing up. As my wife and I have watched our little ones grow we were usually right as to which ones had more leadership or dominating qualities, but that didn’t mean they were born to be leaders. They have just turned out to be a bit more assertive.
Leaders are necessary and good ones are often hard to find. Good, experienced project managers who can perform well under pressure, make the necessary split second decisions with little information to go on, and manage dollars and resources and deliver projects on time are the leaders we need in place to manage project engagements. Not necessarily loud, born, a particular gender, experienced or connected.
What are your thoughts on these leadership myths? What others would you add to the list?