By rejecting the myth of leadership, we can create peer-based organizations where everyone does their best to help the company achieve results, and where true teams ”not just teamwork ”can be organized. Dismissing the myth is easier said than done, however, as we're all affected by its assumptions. For proof, read the following description and then write down a few thoughts that describe what kind of person this is.

Works in a factory, reads a newspaper, goes to the movies, is of average height, cracks jokes, is strong and active.

Now ask an associate to read the following description and do the same, without letting the associate read either the first description or your response.

Works in a factory, reads a newspaper, goes to the movies, is of average height, is intelligent , cracks jokes, is strong and active.

This experiment was carried out by Haire and Grunes (1950), and their findings reveal the presence of the beliefs of the myth of leadership. If you compare your description with your associates ', you might find the same results as they did. The addition of the word intelligent in the second description elicits a different response. Most people will characterize this person as a foreman or manager in the factory, unlike the person in the first description, even though it is exactly the same as the first except for the addition of that word intelligent . We have all internalized the myth to such an extent that it severely clouds our common sense and judgment, and we willingly give up our freedom to those above us in rank. Looking at table 2, we can see how the contrast in rank- versus peer-based assumptions leads to very different perceptions of people and relationships in organizations.


Rank-Based Assumptions

Peer-Based Assumptions

Employees are by nature lazy and need external motivation.

Employees tend to be productive and self-motivated.

Employees are by nature selfish and self-seeking and therefore need external control to keep them in line.

Employees tend to be caring and willing to cooperate.

Leaders are heroic individuals who have risen above the masses ”possessing either an innate or learned genius. They are better than those beneath them, thus have the right to control decision making in organizations and do all the commanding and controlling.

Leaders are no different than employees ”they have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

The heroic leader can control a complex organization from the top down, can accurately predict what is going to happen in the future, and should therefore be making all the critical decisions.

Only with input and participation from all levels of the organization can leaders make effective decisions about current and future business conditions.

Employees tend not to know the best thing to do, while leaders do know.

Individuals closest to where the work is done have a good grasp on what needs to happen.

You must manage (manipulate) employees to get them to do what you want.

You don't manage peers; you cooperate with them.

The command-and-control style of management perpetuated by rank-based thinking has made organizational life "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" for leaders and workers alike. This should not be. Life in organizations should be communal, rich, rewarding , fulfilling, and joyful . This can only happen if we reject the myth of leadership and properly understand how to manage in a way that is harmonious with peer-based thinking.

The Myth of Leadership. Creating Leaderless Organizations
The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations
ISBN: 0891061991
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 98

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