Most people assume that large organizations are well led. Some people assume that any successful business has good leadership. Leadership is interesting because it isn’t particularly easy to pass on to someone else. Because of this, there are many businesses that are successful (they haven’t gone bankrupt) that aren’t particularly well led. Many times an organization will rely on the success of its previous leader who has been gone for years.
Great leadership is a very rare thing. For most people, it isn’t something that comes naturally. What is amazing is that so many organizations are very successful with only marginally competent leaders. Sometimes, this is because the structure of an organization helps make up for the leader’s shortcomings. Sometimes, inadequate leaders are able to succeed because their support staff specifically makes up for their weaknesses.
While great leadership skills will help make someone successful, don’t assume that being successful indicates that someone is a good leader. This is a trap that many people fall into when they are looking for someone else to emulate. They find someone successful and assume that following their example will make them a better leader. Obviously, if you are mimicking good solid leadership skills, this might be a good thing, but many people can’t tell the difference between a skill that leads to success and a bad habit that someone succeeds in spite of.
When you stop assuming that successful people got that way because of their leadership skills, you are in a much better position to truly observe the strengths and weaknesses of others. Don’t assume that every habit of a successful person is a strength and don’t assume that every habit of an unsuccessful person is a weakness.