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Only A Small Number of People Can Be Effective Leaders? Myth or Truth

Truer Than Most People Think

If you look at lists of leadership myths often you will find one that suggests that it is inaccurate to suggest that leadership ability is restricted to a small number of people. Like many assumptions about leadership, this is partly true, but also partly false.

The reality is that not everyone can or will be effective in leading others. In some cases, there is a lack of skills, or a person holds a set of beliefs and values that interferes with leading effectively. Or a person's personality, strengths and weaknesses do not position the person to be effective leading others. However (and it's a big however), that's not to say that people can't change, and learn from experience to grow into better leaders.

It's worth considering that very few people end up as successful formal leaders, though. While they may have the potential to lead, most people simply are not provided the opportunity to develop as leaders in formal positions of power. The "opportunity" issue, then tends to make it appear that leadership ability is only distributed to a few people. This applies particularly for senior level leadership positions, where large companies can't afford to wait until a leader (let's say a CEO), learns through experience.

So, while it may be true that the ability to lead is widely distributed in terms of potential, the actual number of people who will become excellent leaders is restricted. Leadership potential is not so rare as once was thought, but neither is it so common that anyone can lead.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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  • Casselman
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  • Canada, K0A 1M0