10 Leadership Myths You Need To Stop Believing

The truth about leadership and management can be very different from many people’s beliefs. There are many myths and beliefs about the best way to handle every situation but leadership is very situational. Successful tactics can be very different for different supervisors and different situations. There is no script or set way of doing things. Every leader has to find a way that works for them. In this article, you will see 10 myths about leadership and the truth behind it.

The Truth About Leadership! Leadership Myths

Leadership Myth 1: Leaders don’t have to work hard because they work smart.

Image of a monkey with a confused look representing a confused leader, supervisor, boss, manager for leadership myths section.

Although good leaders do try to find ways to work smarter, they are also hard workers. Just because you are put in a position of power it doesn’t mean the work ends. Working hard and smart is the best way to not only get the most out of yourself but also get the most out of your employees. If you start to slack off because you made it to a position of power your employees will likely follow. As a leader, you set the example by working hard and smart.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is an example of a great leader that is also a hard worker. He begins sending and responding to emails at 4:30 a.m. He is reported to typically be the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave the office in the afternoon.

Related content: 17 People Whose Incredible Work Ethic Paid Off

Leadership Myth 2: Leaders are born not made.

Leadership is a trait caused by both nature and nurture. It is true that some people have more natural abilities to lead but it is a skill that can be learned and built upon, just like any skill. There are so many ways to develop leadership skills in yourself. You can take courses, read articles and blogs like this one, find a mentor, and have them take you under their wing, just to name a few ways. No matter where your skills are now, you can always improve them with little training, mentorship, and practice.

Leadership Myth 3: Leaders can’t show vulnerability.

Leaders are people too and that means having moments and areas of weakness. It’s ok for a leader to show weakness from time to time. As leaders, we must acknowledge our weaknesses and try to develop ourselves in those areas. Another thing we can do is find someone strong in the areas where we are weak. We can learn from and lean on or utilize this person to balance us out in our areas of weakness. We must realize that we are stronger with the help of others. You are not alone in your journey of leadership.

Leadership Myth 4: Leaders have all the answers.

Image of figure standing on a question mark scratching head representing a leader, supervisor, boss, manager not having all the answers.

As leaders, there are going to be many situations where we don’t have the answers. It’s ok to not always have the answer. Nobody can have all the answers. As leaders, it’s our job to find the answers or gather as much data as time will allow and make a decision. Sometimes we will make the wrong call but that is part of being a leader. What you don’t want to do is pretend or think you must know everything. Asking someone else for assistance will avoid many bad decisions. Don’t let your pride get in the way of the success of your team.

Leadership Myth 5: Leaders must be extroverts.

There is a common misconception that all extroverts are outgoing and talkative, and all introverts are shy and like to be alone. Extrovert and introvert have more to do with how people process problems and ideas. Extroverts process problems and ideas by talking them out with others. While introverts tend to process problems and ideas in their head. Extroverts are believed to be good at building connections with others, but introverts can be just as good at building connections.

Believe it or not, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, and CEO of Facebook is an introvert. Even though he runs the largest social networking company in the world, he can be a very shy person. Many times, he prefers to be alone or with close friends. He did not let his introverted thinking style hold him back from making Facebook a multibillion-dollar business.

Related Content: 23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History

Leadership Myth 6: All managers are leaders.

As many of you may have experienced, not all managers are good leaders. Some managers are even good managers but not good leaders. On the flip side, not all leaders are managers. Many times, companies promote people based on their abilities to do the job on the floor and not their ability to lead. Sometimes it works out and people become good leaders, but other times it doesn’t work out and teams are stuck with poor leaders. Therefore, some of the best companies develop their employees to be leaders by training them in areas of leadership before assuming the role.

The military is an organization that does a very good job of training its employees to be leaders from the start. There is a large focus on not only good followership but also good leadership. They offer many training avenues to train their employees like classes, seminars, and hands-on training. Even low-ranking individuals are put in charge of small teams to help develop their abilities to lead.

Leadership Myth 7: Leaders must be trailblazers.

People looking at the words passion led us here.

Not all leaders are trailblazers. Many great leaders take on a different approach than trying to make a bunch of changes. Some try to make minor changes and refine processes making the team better and more efficient. Some great leaders focus on motivating their subordinates making the team better. Some great leaders go down paths and use tactics that have been successful in the past. It is not always necessary for a leader to be a trailblazer.  

Leadership Myth 8: A leader must always be “on”.

A leader should indeed minimize negative attitudes and down days, but nobody can always be on. Leaders are human just like everybody else and down days will happen. Your subordinates will understand if you have a bad day if it is kept to a minimum. Your job as a leader is to try to not allow that mentality to bleed into the work center. Many times, teams will take on whatever vibe the leader is putting out and it can affect everybody on the team. Even if you have a bad day, tomorrow is a new day and you can come in with a whole new attitude.

Leadership Myth 9: Failure is never an option.

This is one of those leadership myths that just isn’t true. Failure and mistakes are part of being a leader sometimes. There may be situations where we can’t fail but most of the time if you mess up or make the wrong call it’s not the end of the world or even the end of your job.

As leaders, we can’t be so afraid of failure that we allow it to hinder our decisions. We must be prepared for failure and figure out how to turn failure around when it happens. The mistakes we make teach us some of our best and most important lessons.

Many great leaders have failed and found ways to prosper. Everyone knows the name Walt Disney, but many people don’t realize the struggles he went through before finally breaking through. Disney’s lost his first animation studio because he couldn’t afford to pay the rent. He did not let this failure stop him and became one of the largest movie/entertainment companies in the world.

Leadership Myth 10: Leaders are always at the top.

Image of the tops of buildings where many believe all leaders are.

There are two types of power, positional power, and personal power. Positional power is the power that is derived from the position. Personal power is the power that comes from the leadership abilities of a person and is not dependent on position. People at the top indeed have the positional power in which more people have to listen to them or they risk losing their job. The higher you go the more people there are that must listen to you, but leaders can be anywhere in an organizational chain.

Personal power can be just as powerful as positional power. In most cases, it can be even more useful because people want to listen to you. It is not true that leaders are always at the top and many times those at the top may not have the best leadership skills.

Strategies for Developing Effective Leadership

Here are some strategies for leaders looking to improve:

Seek feedback: One of the most effective ways to improve as a leader is to seek feedback from those around you. Talk to your team members, peers, and managers to get a sense of how you’re doing, and what you can do better. Be open to constructive criticism, and use it to make meaningful changes to your leadership style.

Learn from others: There’s no shortage of great leaders out there, so take advantage of their knowledge and experience. Read books, attend conferences, and seek out mentors who can help you develop your skills.

Set clear goals: As a leader, it’s important to have clear goals and priorities. Take the time to define your objectives, and communicate them clearly to your team. This will help everyone stay focused and motivated, and will make it easier to measure progress and success.

Develop good habits: Good habits are the foundation of effective leadership. Make a conscious effort to develop habits that support your goals, such as prioritizing tasks, staying organized, and communicating clearly.

Embrace failure: No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. As a leader, it’s important to embrace failure as a natural part of the learning process. Use your failures as an opportunity to grow and learn, and encourage your team members to do the same.

Focus on results: At the end of the day, leadership is all about results. Make sure you’re focused on achieving your goals, and that you’re holding yourself and your team accountable for delivering results.

Practice empathy: Empathy is a key trait of effective leaders. By putting yourself in your team member’s shoes, you can better understand their needs, motivations, and challenges. This can help you build stronger relationships with your team, and make better decisions that take their perspectives into account.

Be a good listener: Listening is a crucial skill for leaders, yet it’s often overlooked. Take the time to listen to your team members, and show them that you value their input and ideas. This can help foster a culture of open communication and can lead to better outcomes for everyone.

Lead by example: As a leader, you set the tone for your team. Make sure you’re modeling the behaviors you want to see in others, such as accountability, integrity, and hard work. This can help inspire your team members to be their best selves and can create a positive and productive work environment.

Take care of yourself: Finally, it’s important for leaders to take care of themselves. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise, and downtime to recharge your batteries. This can help you stay focused, energized, and motivated, and can prevent burnout and stress.

By following these strategies, leaders can improve their skills and knowledge, and become more effective in their roles. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or a new manager, there’s always room to grow and develop as a leader. So take the time to invest in yourself, and watch your leadership skills soar.

Bottom Line

The truth about leadership is very different than many beliefs. There are many different myths about leadership but a lot of times they are just not true. Many people have an image in their minds of exactly what a leader should be, but this is not the case in the real world. Leaders can take many different forms and act very different but still be very effective.  

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