A lot of people think that leadership is common sense. While many leadership concepts are logical and even simple, they are not common sense or even common practice. If they were, most leaders would be good leaders and this is certainly not the case. After more than 15 years of practicing, teaching and studying leadership, I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that most managers and leaders are not good. Since people think leadership is common sense, they don’t send enough time learning about or getting better at it.
Additionally, if they do learn about leadership, they learn the same standard theories that everyone else does. The result is like trying to paint a masterpiece with a paint by numbers kit. You will end up with a picture, but not an original work of art. Similarly, your customers, competitors, etc. are not going to give you detailed instructions on how to lead. You must learn to think and figure things out how to lead with limited information and time.
Leadership theories and concepts are easy to understand but hard to apply because people vary and they are not always logical or rational. Simple management concepts are used in infinite combinations depending on the situation, so the application is complex and results may take a long time to materialize. Additionally, the solution will likely have to be reformulated when the situation changes.
Therefore, great leaders are like artists, using basic concepts in unique combinations to lead in a way that meets the specific demands of the situation. When it matches their personality, followers and situation, it is like a masterpiece; a leadership style that is impossible to copy. Like the piece to the right that recently sold for $119.9 million, they are likely to innovate and beat the competition.