360 Degree Leader: The Myths of Leading from the Middle of an Organization

Myth 1: People need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive.

I admit that having the top title may prompt your subordinates to become more productive because of the title (like how in the real world working class people unconsciously lower their self-worth in fear of being rejected by their higher-ups), therefore it’s likely you’ll receive results. However, you certainly don’t need to possess the top title to make a difference. Your title, which is essentially just a word that states your position, does not limit your ability to contribute to the team; in fact, I think people with lower position hold the same, if not more power to control the group’s success. Achievements and the ability to help others become productive simply isn’t something that comes with your title. No matter who you are, someone is being influenced by you.

Myth 2: Becoming the person you desire to be.

To become the person you want to be, you must firmly state your goal and have the determination to reach it. Though this may not be the most pleasant process, it is also important to recognize your flaws/weak points/bad habits and set a plan to correct it. Change isn’t something that happens overnight. One day of hard work might not make a big difference, but if you persevere and find the motivation to charge towards your goal then one day, you will become the person you aspire to be.

Myth 3: Reasons that prompt you to follow someone else.

Everyone has different tastes, beliefs, values, backgrounds, etc., which is why you probably won’t find another person that agrees absolutely 100% with you. We all come from different perspectives, therefore we will all come up with different answers. It is sometimes important to let go of your set of perspective and think about where the others are coming from. If what my peer says sound logical, is reasonable, is something I am able to accept quite easily, and points out things that I haven’t yet thought about, then I consider dropping my side of the argument and following their lead (unless I’m really, really confident in my solution, which is a different story). This does not mean you can’t contribute anymore. You might take their idea and put in some of your own to make it more satisfying (or in other words, compromise).

Myth 4: How often the people in my quad/committee question or criticize the decisions made by the leader.

The answer would be very often, almost constantly. I think this also speaks for the entire TALONS classroom as well, since we clearly never come to an agreement quickly. This is, in a way, really effective since it eliminates almost every problem you can possibly think of while still satisfying most of the population.

Myth 5: The weight of your responsibility increases as you move up in an organization.

I completely agree. The higher up you are, the more you will feel pressure to put in more work, take on more responsibility, and do even better than you did before. More people will look up to you, put their trust in to you, put their hope in you, and rely on you. It’s now your job to act upon it and not let them down. In addition to this, you are now responsible for all of those people that answer to you. On top of your own worries, you will also have to deal with everyone else’s problems. It’s likely that you’ll become overly sensitive about failure, which adds even more stress to your life. This is a very tiring task that takes a lot of mental energy and determination to do well in; it’s definitely not time to sit back and drink tea.

Myth 6: Relate “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” (Eleanor Roosevelt) to allowing a title or position to limit your position.

This quote basically means no one has the right to put you in a lower position without you agreeing to it. There are times when your level of confidence will decrease when working at a lower position. You might think, “There’s a limit to what I am able to do,” which then turns into “I can never do as much compared to people of higher positions because clearly I am inferior.” These negative thoughts greatly restrict what you are capable of doing therefore preventing you from reaching your potential.

Myth 7: The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. They should just give up leading altogether.

It’s true that the majority of the population will never grow to become the CEO of a company, however this fact should not deter anyone from leading. Sure, only the selected few will be the CEO, but every single one of the members can become a leader. Just because the CEO holds a lot of power doesn’t mean leadership isn’t needed between everyone else. Without even giving it a try, you will never know what you are capable of. Not being the CEO isn’t the end of the world. There will always be tasks that require your leadership; many opportunities await (“Opportunity is for those who are prepared,” says the Chinese).

360° Leader: 7 Myths of Leadership

After our discussions in class today, our class was introduced to the 360° leader, and from this, are some answers I have come up with.

Firstly, some people may think that without the highest title, or position, they can not get results, nor help their peers be more productive. I think that this is completely false, because really, your ability to help others, usually does not depend on your rank, or title. There may be certain situations where, this may not be the case, but overall, there is always beneficial things you can do to your committee/ organization, which in turn, leads to results.

Secondly, there are many ways to develop leadership skills right now. As mentioned in the book, leadership is about influence, and I think the first step is becoming a leader among your peers. Leading peers can be in school during projects, or discussions. It can also be in the workplace with fellow co-workers.

About influence, a person’s level of influence is determined by a number of factors. The lowest being a title of seniority (entitled to be a leader), but influence can come with personal relationships, favors, results, and personhood (what you stand for as a person).

Most of time, not everyone will agree, and people are entitled to their own opinion. What really prompts me to listen to someone else’s opinion, is if it is different than mine. Instantly, I am more intrigued, and wonder why they are wrong. :) Jokes aside, contradictory discussions are much more fascinating than, “I agree.”

In an organization, it is evident that as you climb the corporate ladder, the responsibilities of that position increases. It may seem like the top is all daisies where you can do nothing and make money, but in reality, you are not responsible for your work, but hundreds and thousands of other employees, and ultimately the company itself. You are now supervising a large number of employees, and to make sure everyone is on duty, and getting things done is much more work than just a simple employee.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I would have to disagree with this statement. A lot of times, in an organization some people are more critical to the company than others. In most jobs, regular employees are limited in their position. They are hired to do their job. I also don’t think people should feel inferior because of their position. Like an engine, I think everyone in a company is needed to do their part to keep it going. Not everyone can be CEOs or supervisors.

Going off of the idea of becoming CEO, it is true. The role of CEO is not for everyone, and of course there are very few positions available. Does that mean throw in the towel and stop leading altogether? No. Does that mean stop at nothing, scratch, fight, and die to get this spot? No. I believe just keep doing what you are doing now, and slowly improve your leadership, and influence among others. Mr. Jackson has brought up this point many times, that whoever wants to be president, shouldn’t be president, and the person who doesn’t, should. This philosophy can be applied here, meaning if you are a strong enough leader to become the CEO, then fellow workmates, bosses, and others will recognize that and you will start climbing. If not, a middle level job is definitely not bad, and many are content to stay there.

The Myths of Leading From the Middle

I feel that the opportunity to lead will come not only when you are at the top, but also when you are at the bottom. You can start any time, anywhere, there is no need for someone not to prepare for a leadership position that you may never reach, because if you don’t try to act like a leader, you won’t become one.

People automatically follow the person in charge, which true, but not the best. That person who is in charge is probably dealing with their many responsibilities he has. But why not YOU make a difference? There is no limit to your influence at your current position. Not just the top leaders need to know how to lead, anyone can lead! When you’re at the top, your responsibilities increase, yet you think that you have gained freedom, have been given the title as a leader and everyone else becomes your slave. But no. Once you’re at the top you may THINK that you will not have to work so hard anymore, when truly it’s only easier to get people’s attention.

When you’re at the top of a committee, you’ll think it will be easier to get things done, when in reality we are built like bees, to not only work hard, but to work hard together to get a job done.



Myths That are Mentioned (In order they appeared)

Myth 1.2: “The opportunity to lead will come only when I am at the top.”

Myth 2.3: “There is no need to prepare for a leadership position that I may never reach.”

Myth 3.1: “People automatically follow the person in charge.”

Myth 6.1: “My current position limits my influence.”

Myth 7.1: “Only those in top leadership position really need to know how to lead.”

Myth 5.1: “When I get to the top, I will have it made and will not have to work so hard anymore.”

Myth 4.1: “When I am at the top of my committee, it will be easy to get things done.”

360 Degree Leader

Do people need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive? If this statement was true, which it isn’t, there would be very few people who would achieve anything. As a student when you complete something and you are proud of it, that is achieving something; are you the top title? In this situation, lets say that the top title is having the highest marks in the class, chances are you are not the top, but you still have achieved something. Helping other people become productive is not something that comes with top title. To help someone out, you just have to take a bit of time to support someone in their goals.

How can you reshape your thinking and habits to better display the characteristics of a leader? Start sharing your opinion more, express how you feel. Start believing that having a high title doesn’t mean being a leader; and having a lower title doesn’t mean being a follower.

What determines a persons level of influence with those around her/him? People with a lot of influence will often just strongly believe in whatever they are promoting. If you understand, are passionate and pose a good case for your cause, chances are people will want to help reach that goal.

What prompts you to consider another persons opinion? Mainly the same things as the answer above. If someone is determined, strongly believe their opinion and have a good explanation as to why they believe that, chances are you will allow me (or anyone for that matter) to consider your opinion.

Do you agree that when you move up in an organization, the weight of your responsibilities increases? I believe this statement is true because you boss will give you more work and you will have to do it yourself or delegate it and by delegating it you would have to make sure that the employees are doing their share. In John C. Maxwell’s participant guide, it states “In many organizations, as you move up the ladder, you may even find that the amount of responsibility you take on increases faster than the amount of authority you receive

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” How does this idea relate to allowing your title or position to limit you position? These ideas are almost the same. Only you can limit yourself and only you can make yourself feel inferior.

The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does this mean they should just give up on leading altogether? You can be a leader no matter what your position is, whether it’s a position in a work place or society. Martin Luther King Jr. became one of the most influential leaders when he was at the bottom in society.

The Myths of Leadership

Here are the responses to the seven questions I have chosen from each of the seven myths of leadership:

Myth 1) A unique skill that I possess is my ability to communicate well with the people I work with. I am very keen in ensuring that everyone in my committee/group understands the goals and timeline for our project, and I believe that my eagerness in making sure that everyone is “up to date” will help pass on the importance of good communication.

Myth 2) Currently, I am learning to lead through John C. Maxwell’s 360 Degree Leader guide, however being in the TALONS program gives me a handful of opportunities to lead and demonstrate good leadership skills with my peers. For example, I use opportunities like the adventure trip planning to step up, take more risks, ensure good communication, and effectively completing all assignments in a timely manner.

Myth 3) Personally, I enjoy the opportunity to step up, take initiative, and demonstrate good leadership skills in the classroom. However, when I am ever unsure about something, or when I do not feel I have enough experience, I tend to hesitate and follow another peer. This is good in the sense that other peers can step up and demonstrate their leadership skills, but it is disadvantageous to me because it might prompt me to step back more often and rely on others as opposed to being more confident in my leadership skills.

Myth 4) When I am in a position that requires a lot of leading and “directing”, I always try to allow my peers to ask questions and voice their opinions. Hearing one voice or one opinion 24/7 is not very pleasant, so when I make a statement or propose an argument, I always give the opportunity for my peers to voice their opinions. The reason being is that I believe that a leader should be as good of a listener as they are a directer. I find it very useful to hear other opinions because I can piggy-back off other ideas to create a stronger idea than the original.

Myth 5) I believe that when one moves up in an organization, then the weight of his/her responsibilities increase. I see this a lot when I am in musical theatre. The dancers at the back of the stage have less responsibilities than those at the front because the audience is closest to the front of the stage, therefore the dancers at the front must ensure that their dance moves and facial expressions are flawless. Conversely, the dancers at the back do not have as much pressure because if there is a misstep within the back row, then it likely won’t be as noticeable to the audience because of the other dancers in front. This DOES NOT mean that the dancers at the back should work less, rather it means that the dancers at the front need to work harder to keep their spot.

Myth 6)No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt). In other words, no one has the right to put you in a lower rank position without you agreeing to it. This quote conveys the message that any person, regardless of their hierarchy, is capable of being an effective leader to his or her peers. Roosevelt is trying to emphasize that you, as a leader, should never let your position stop yourself from reaching your full potential.

Myth 7) The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Although this statement is true, I do not believe that people should give up leading altogether. I feel that this mentality shows that one doesn’t believe in his/her self, that one doesn’t have enough confidence to demonstrate good leadership skills. Despite this reality, I feel that one should never stop leading, and he or she should never stop honing their skills because opportunities can happen, and when they do, any confident leader will be thankful that he/she never stopped leading.

Leadership Myths Questions

1. People do not need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive because titles do not reflect traits or actions- you can still be productive and helpful to others without being the highest power.
2. Right now I am learning to lead by heading the advertising committee for my schools Me to We fundraiser (coffee house). An opportunity I will have to further develop my leadership skills is while working with my committee for the Adventure Trip.
3. I am prompted to follow someone else when they can take charge and make decisions while still considering the opinions, ideas, and feelings of the people around them.
4. A leader is valuable to an organization/committee because they can moderate conflicts, make decisions if consensus cannot be reached, provide motivation, and delegate tasks.
5. Yes, I believe that as you move up in an organization the weight of your responsibly increases because there are more people working ‘for’ you, and therefore more people you must lead.
6. The quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” relates to allowing a title or position to limit your position because just like no one can make you feel inferior unless you allow yourself to feel inferior, no one can say you can’t lead others unless you believe you can’t lead others.
7. Although the reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO, they should not give up leading altogether because position has no effect on the quality or ability to lead, since titles do not reflect traits or actions and leading is entirely possible from anywhere in the organization.

Leadership Myth Busting!

Myth one: The Position Myth 

What has a peer taught you in the past year?

Within the past year, a peer of mine taught me that asking questions, as well as asking for help is a crucial part of the learning process. Before when I was stuck with something I would sit and try to figure it out myself, rather than step up and ask for help to ensure that I get the best understanding.

Myth Two: Destination Myth 

How do you become the person you desire to be?

The way I see it the only way to change yourself for the better is to take action. Start with a change in mind and go out and work on that however you can. A good way to do this is by setting smaller goals with an end goal in mind. What I do is I write my goal down and everything I can do to get myself there, and then I go out and try to achieve all the goals I wrote down.

Myth Three: The Influence Myth

What prompts you to follow someone else?

I look for a few things when assessing a leader, but most of the time I can tell right away that the person may be a good leader. They sort of give off an air of confidence and intelligence. If a person has good vision as well as a drive to back that up I may feel compelled to follow them. However I don’t like to just up and follow someone, it takes time for me to “assess” them as a leader before I will follow them.

Myth Four: The Inexperience Myth 

What makes a leader valuable to a organization/committee?

Above all, I think, a valuable leader needs to be able to manage others. Without a good leader things would get out of hand quite quickly. I think that the best leaders are the ones who can think on their feet. More often than not unexpected problems arise, and I think that it’s the way that a leader deals with them that sets them apart from others.

Myth Five: Freedom Myth 

Do you agree that when you move up in an organization, the weight of your responsibility increases?

Yes, when you move up in an organization it means that your superiors believe that you can handle a greater workload/responsibility. That’s why you get paid more when you get a promotion, because you are doing more work.

Myth Six: The Potential Myth

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” How does that idea relate to allowing a title or position to limit your position?

The quote is basically saying that just because a person has a higher role or title than you they don’t have the right to underestimate you, unless you let them. Just because you aren’t necessarily the top of the food chain doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to have an opinion that actually matters.

Myth Seven: The All-or-Nothing Myth

They reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean that they should just give up leading altogether?

It definitely doesn’t mean that they should should just give up. Just because they may not make it to the top doesn’t mean that they can’t try to get close. They really can’t settle for where they are. Instead they should strive to be the best that they, as an individual, can be no matter where everyone else is at.

Answering the Mythical Leadership Questions

Hello everyone, here’s the answers to the questions about the myths in class today.
Myth 1: The unique skills that I could pass to others could be that I am great at remembering facts and could teach my ways to remember certain things. Not all people can perform that skill that well though, so I can also teach reading skills to people of all ages that need them.
Myth 2: I often take the lead on projects when needed. I always help and chip in ideas, but I only take the lead if no one else does. You can’t stand out from your peers if you only do what you are supposed to do. People who go above and beyond usually get noticed, and the people who go below get fired.
Myth 3: What usually prompts me to follow someone else is if they have an idea and conviction to work towards and the ability to follow up on their plans and ideas that I agree with.
Myth 4: What I think makes a leader valuable to an organization is the ability to set direction. A whole team of workers might accomplish nothing if no one tells them what to work towards.
Myth 5: Yes. If you go up the chain the colder it is, the harder it is to climb, and the more the other links rely on you. If you break, everyone below you falls.
Myth 6: I am capable of achieving an education, a great job, and a respectable life. A major in law would get me a great lawyer job and get me enough income to lead a life that everyone can respect.
Myth 7: The prospects for getting to the top are the illusion of control. People think they have unnatural power over things that cannot be controlled, and people listen to them out of fear for their jobs. My motivation for such a job would be to try and dispel those rumors and illusions. (If you read Dilbert, I also want to become a CEO so I can jump ship with a golden parachute.)
That’s all for now! See you next time,