Leaders have their work cut out for them. From keeping up with the current trends and data analyses to working out the optimal communication strategy, they always have something on their plate that needs attention. However, that is the responsibility they signed up for, and they are always happy to take it up.
Despite several diverse examples of leadership that prove otherwise, a few myths have emerged that continue to remain popular. The common theme between all of them is that they assume leaders to have special talents others lack that enable them to accomplish all they do.
The problem with these myths is that they make leadership appear to be more exclusive than it really is. This practice results in discouraging many people with the potential to become great leaders.
Myths about Leadership
To dismantle misconceptions, below are some of the most common leadership myths you and your team need to stop believing in.
Myth #1: People are Born Leaders
The most common misconception about leadership is that leaders are born not made. It assumes that only people born with a specific set of traits are capable of becoming successful leaders and, therefore, leadership potential is decided at birth.
This is completely false. While people may be born with predispositions that are compatible with leadership roles, all of these skills and traits can also be acquired. In short, people with the drive and ambition to assume a leadership position are also capable of becoming successful leaders.
Myth #2: There Is One Perfect Leadership Style
Another myth prevalent among business and non-business circles is that there is one perfect leadership style that will always be successful. This is again a common misconception because the only formula for successful leadership is adaptability.
Change is a constant part of the business world and the only leadership model that accommodates this reality is adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership in itself does not believe in achieving success through a specific set of practices. Instead, it places value in adapting leadership style and method according to the situation.
Each crisis or change is unique and requires leaders to study it properly and create a solution that takes advantage of it.
Myth #3: Leaders Need to Be Extroverts
Extroverts are social, have an easier time interacting with people, and don’t mind being in the spotlight. That’s the criteria for successful leadership, right? Wrong. Both extroverts and introverts are equally capable of becoming successful leaders so long as they can inculcate the necessary skills within themselves.
Several of the most famous and successful leaders have been famous for their introverted personalities. Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi were introverted, yet led impactful movements in their time.
In the modern context, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, and Barack Obama are all famous for their subdued and introverted personalities. However, their introversion does not make them any less impactful in their leadership compared to their extroverted counterparts.
Myth #4: All Managers are Leaders
People tend to use the words managers and leaders interchangeably, which is a huge mistake. While all leaders are potentially managers, not all managers make great leaders. Effective leadership is a combination of traits like critical thinking, empathy, adaptiveness, etc. that is not always present in a team manager.
While people in managerial positions have the potential to cultivate these skills, their ability to claim the leadership title depends on whether or not they do it. In fact, their subordinate has a good chance of becoming a leader if they can hone and develop their leadership skills.
Myth #5: Leaders Never Make Mistakes
This leadership myth is a result of a vague belief that leaders are perfect and, in some way, better than the rest of the people around them. This belief is not only untrue, but it is also extensively damaging for people wanting to take up leadership positions.
Leaders are no different from everyone else and are just as prone to making mistakes as the rest of us. What sets them apart is their attitude towards failure. Effective leaders try their best to create a successful strategy. However, they always go in with a contingency plan in place and a readiness to respond to any unplanned events that may occur.
They also take failures as a learning opportunity and use them to set the base for their next success.
Myth #6: Leaders Know Everything
Last but not the least, subordinates and stakeholders alike seem to believe that leaders have all the answers. This myth can’t be any further from the truth. Leaders do not have all the answers. One of their own subordinates may have more knowledge than they do in a particular area of expertise.
What leaders do have is an incredible propensity towards learning. Effective leaders prefer to create diverse teams that combine the power of their backgrounds to present some of the best insight-based solutions. Leaders remain forever curious and learn from their surroundings.
They later analyze their newly acquired knowledge and determine how best to use it to create a strategic advantage for their organization.
Facts about Leadership
Now that we have addressed some common leadership myths, let’s also briefly look at some facts about leadership to help you know what you need to aim for.
Effective leaders learn to be empathetic and use this trait to effectively communicate with their team members.
Leaders are passionate about growth and development, and never stop learning.
Effective leaders are aware of their influence and always lead by example. If they want to inculcate a culture of inclusion and diversity, they will be the first to practice it.
Leaders know the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Successful leaders have integrity and are committed to excellence.
If you hope to take on the leadership mantle or are a leader already, make sure these traits manifest in your behavior and management.
To sum up, several leadership prerequisites are inaccurate and can discourage people from aiming for leadership positions. Make sure you do not believe in these myths and work to develop the traits necessary for successful leadership.