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10 popular myths about leadership and how to overcome them

April 15, 2020

10 min read

The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.

Close your eyes for a second and think of a leader. Do you see? Are you thinking of a politician, a CEO, or a military leader? It is easy to understand why these types of images come to mind. Leaders are often perceived as intelligent, outgoing, and decisive people. In some cases, leaders may even seem a little intimidating to us.

10 popular myths about leadership and how to overcome them10 popular myths about leadership and how to overcome them

The problem with an image that suggests an aggressive authority figure is that it can prevent some potentially strong leaders from going after leadership roles or reaching their full potential. It is easy to misunderstand or have misconceptions about what a leader is or is not.

With this in mind, let's identify 10 of the most popular leadership myths so you can discover new opportunities and take charge of your team more effectively.

1. Business leadership

There is an assumption that all entrepreneurs are born leaders. The reality is that just having a timely idea does not mean that you are able to organize, operate and grow a business, even if your idea is a multi-million dollar business.

Even if you are the “founder” of your business, don't think that you are automatically in the best position to be its leader. Leadership does not come with a job description, but with having a vision and getting others to follow that vision, with growing talent, with listening and influencing others. Those are all qualities that can be present in an external CEO you hire, just like LinkedIn did with Jeff Weiner.

If you don't think you have good leadership qualities, then it is better to leave your ego at the door and give the kingdom to someone who does have better abilities to lead it.

2. Leaders must not be vulnerable

Perhaps one of the most prevalent myths about leaders is that, regardless of the situation, they must remain strong and stable. If they accept guilt, change direction, or listen to others, it is a sign of weakness. Of course, this could not be further from the truth.

Strong leaders take responsibility for their mistakes so they can learn from them. They are receptive to feedback, even when it is negative. They don't have all the answers and show their human side by listening and caring for their employees.

3. A great leader is cold, aggressive and omnipotent

I am sure that at some point you have had to work with a leader who thinks he knows everything. They act half rude, speak with superiority and even separate themselves from the rest of the team, feeling above the rest. Now, think about what your performance was like under his guidance, I bet you weren't as productive or motivated as you could have been, right?

Employees want their leaders to genuinely care about them. They want to feel respected. And the employee wants their ideas and concerns to be heard kindly. The best way to sharpen these leadership skills is by increasing emotional intelligence. Increasing your emotional IQ will help you become more self-aware, empathetic, and a better communicator. As a result, you will create a good relationship with your team.

4. People prefer extrovert leaders

What is the difference between extroverts and introverts? Many people believe that extroversion has to do with the way you behave in social situations. Extroverts are believed to be more sociable and confident, and introverts are shy and antisocial. However, being an extrovert or an introvert has more to do with the way you process information.

Extroverts solve problems by discussing them and seeking the advice and opinion of others. Introverts process their thoughts and conflicts internally. Because of these differences, we are not surprised that extroverts are more attracted to leadership roles. Being a leader involves interacting with others, right?

The reality is that not all extroverts have the stuff of leaders. Many successful individuals like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Marissa Mayer are introverts. Just because you're not the head of a department or you're not comfortable with many people doesn't mean you have to fall behind the leadership. Even so, you may have the right leadership skills to inspire others.

5. There is not enough time to develop leadership skills

As with any skill worth having, it takes time to develop it. Using “lack of time” is a very bad excuse. We all have the same 24 hours a day, and we all have too many things to do, yet somehow many other leaders can improve their leadership skills without issue.

The problem is not that there are not enough hours in the day, but that you are not managing your time correctly. For example: waking up 30 minutes early or delegating less important tasks to others could free up some time that you could use to read, take a course, or work with a coach or mentor.

6. Leadership is synonymous with administration

Assuming leadership is synonymous with good stewardship is another common myth. Good management and good guidance cannot always be equated with a good boss. There are some reasonably significant distinctions between these two roles, such as:

-Leaders create a vision, bosses establish roles.

-Chiefs maintain the status quo while leaders are agents of change.

-Leaders are self-aware and unique. Bosses copy others and adapt and adopt the leadership style of others

-Boss control or avoid risks and problems, while leaders are willing to take risks.

-Leaders remain focused on the big picture. Bosses work on short-term goals.

-Leaders learn something new every day; bosses trust their existing talents.

-Boss build systems while leaders build relationships.

-Leaders train, bosses assign tasks and offer guidance.

-Bossmen have employees. Leaders, on the other hand, have dedicated and loyal fans.

If you have a team with multiple or complex objectives, it is important to know the difference between leadership and management. So you can develop leadership or management skills, depending on what you lack. You may also consider finding someone to help you supplement your missing skills.

7. All leaders are pioneers

Being a pioneer is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, pioneers are ambitious, competitive, risky and goal oriented. At the same time, they are also independent and are the force behind a business. An independent and motivated force can make working with others difficult.

For example, while you're out impressing customers, investors, and consumers through speeches and presentations, there is no one behind you to back the troops. While pioneers can definitely get people to join their vision, leaders know when to step back. A true leader or boss will recognize talent and work alongside this team to propel everyone towards a shared mission and vision.

8. My team members will always tell me the truth

They may not be lying to you completely, but your team is probably only giving you half truths, especially if you have a difficult personality. You may be a complicated individual, emotionally drained, and therefore it is easy to understand why you have leadership problems. If an employee gives you bad news and you exaggerate your reaction, why should they open up to you again?

Your employees should be able to open up to you and be 100 percent transparent, but if you punish them, do you think they will repeat the same mistake? Hearing the truth is not always easy, but without complete information you cannot make informed decisions and you cannot grow as a leader.

To motivate your team to tell you the truth, build a culture of tranquility in which you control your emotions. Focus on what to do next instead of looking for culprits, giving people a second chance. Make feedback easy to give and take. Consider doing an online survey or doing a focus group with someone outside. When you hire someone from outside, anonymity is guaranteed, so team members are not afraid of repercussions.

9. The best leaders get their hands dirty

Obviously, “getting your hands dirty” doesn't mean hiding in your office. There will be times when you have to be working closely with your employees, as long as it is in the correct activities. As a leader, you should focus primarily on activities like decisions, priorities, and responsibilities. Non-leadership tasks should be automated delegated or outsourced so as not to drain you, mentally or physically.

Remember: lead with your work and not prioritizing the work of others.

10. Leaders must always be “active”

Finally, there is a misunderstanding that leaders must always be active, 24/7/365. The reality is that everyone, regardless of their leadership position, needs a break. Checking your email over the weekend or on vacation is a guaranteed way to get fatigued.

You need time away to reflect and focus on what really matters, like spending time with your family, exercising, or learning new information. If you take breaks you can clear your mind and de-stress. And as a result, you will be a more energetic leader, feel more focused, and be more creative.

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