As schoolkids most of us are taught that
no one snowflake is exactly like another.
And no one individual is exactly like another.
So why do we teach leadership as a one size fits all solution?
Leadership development methods are created and then they are taught in seminars to dozens of people at the same time. Or those methods are captured in a book and sold to thousands, sometimes millions, of unique individuals.
Surely, there are more than one or two unique personalities who attend those seminars or who buy those books.
Great minds might think alike but great leaders do not.
Who did Nelson Mandela pattern his leadership after? Abraham Lincoln? Golda Meir? FDR? MLK? Eleanor Roosevelt? Princess Diana? John Wooden? Berry Gordy?
No one. They may have been influenced by others (Martin Luther King, Jr. was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi) but they led from who they were as unique individuals.
Using a generalization to make a point Mr. Gandhi led more from the bottom up (witness his choice of attire) and Rev. King led more from the top down; even as he joined the front lines of protests, his leadership derived from his mobilization (read fraternization) of other leaders. Both successfully achieved major gains.
If the leaders and trailblazers I cited earlier created their own path to greatness, why are we so insistent on following the trails blazed by others, regardless of how successful they have been?
I think great leaders became great precisely because they did not buy the book “Be A Successful Leader By Leading Like Me” or attend the “Top Ten Greatest Leadership Traits and Principles Ever” seminar.
What do you think?