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Published on November 28, 2021 10 min
Other Talks in the Series: Key Concepts: Leadership
Hello everybody. This is Gordon Curphy from Curphy Leadership Solutions and the title of this talk is leadership myths.
''It would be difficult to find a field more prone to fads and unresearched trends than leadership''. If you look on social media, particularly LinkedIn because that's more associated with the professionals. You'll see tons of ads about how to be a better leader. The problem is much of what gets touted, sold, and delivered is not supported by research or much critical thinking. I want to demonstrate what I mean by that, by looking at three current leadership fads or myths and this includes authentic leadership, strength-based leadership, and neuroleadership.
Authentic leadership, sort of a tagline for authentic leadership is, 'to thine own self be true', so what is the focus of authentic leadership? Well, people who want to be authentic leaders need to clarify their own personal values and beliefs, get clear about what you stand for and then act according to those values and beliefs. It's more or less being a leader of character and if you're going to act, you're acting because of personal conviction, not because somebody told you to act a certain way and so the idea here in authentic leadership is being very, very clear about your own core values and aligning those behaviors with those core values so whenever you behave or whenever you act or speak, you are aligned with how you feel or what you believe in. Now, on the surface, this is a very appealing approach, who doesn't want to work for somebody who doesn't want to be led by somebody who acts according to the values. That kind of makes sense but there are some real problems with this. One is if you think about the most authentic leaders over the last two centuries. I'm talking about the 19 hundreds and from 2000 on and now, the two most authentic leaders were Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden. That sounds so much shocking, but if you sit back and think about it and say, okay, who really clarified their core values and beliefs? Who was willing to act on those core values and beliefs? I don't think you'd find two people who were better at it. Now I'm not a big fan of those two, obviously but if you think about authentic leadership in aligning one's values to one's actions. You couldn't find two better examples. Oftentimes we think authentic leadership is good, but it may not be. Another problem with authentic leadership is that everybody lies. I can't cite the specific research, but something like people tell 20-30 lies a day and many of these lies are small lies just to get along, you might come in to see your significant other, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or whatever the case may be, and he or she may not be looking particularly good that day, but you may not say anything about their appearance, about what they're doing because you don't want to irritate them, you just want to get along and if they ask you if I'm coming across okay, you probably going to tell a white little lie, make sure that everything is cool, everything is fine or you happen to be a US president, you may end up having 10 or 15 thousand documented lies over the course of your political career. Everybody lies so that is a real problem with authentic leadership because there's so many misunderstandings or so many falsifications that go on in terms of how our daily interactions with other people. Another thing that's wrong with authentic leadership, which we have to ask the question about, why do we have laws? Why do we have rules dictating speed limits, how you pay taxes, voting, how you're supposed to treat each other. Well, it's truly to keep our authentic selves in check. Now everybody's got impulses, things they would like to do, but they don't because rules and laws keep our gross or worse behaviors in check. So the point is authentic leadership is very appealing on the surface, but when you start peeling back the layers of the onion, you can see it's really not a particularly valid concept when it comes to being an effective leader.