If you asked 10 leaders what makes them a leader, you’ll no doubt receive 10 different answers. It’s not an exact science and no two paths to leadership look exactly alike. However, no matter whose advice you follow to reach the top, there are a few common myths about leadership many people have to learn the hard way.
Myth: Only the boss can lead.
While final decisions on projects, strategies, and tactics often come down from someone in a decision-making position, there are plenty of opportunities for employees at every level of the hierarchy to lead. Whether it’s setting an example through consistent hard work and dedication or stepping up to the plate when the team needs them the most, your employees likely reveal their leadership potential every day. As their leader, it’s important to recognize those qualities and offer encouragement and mentorship to help them develop the skills and expertise to keep their careers moving forward – and upward.
Myth: Leaders don’t need training and development any more.
You’ve made it. You’re a leader now. All the years of hard work, training, and development has paid off and now you can just coast through the rest of your career on top… well, not exactly. The same dedication that got you to your new leadership position is going to be just as important if you want to stay there. From reading business books to attending seminars and conferences to consulting with a personal mentor, great leaders constantly seek out the next learning opportunity that will help ensure they stay ahead of the pack. And in today’s ever-changing technological environment, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your game. When the pace of business moves at breakneck speeds, it’s easy to fall behind.
Myth: You can’t make a mistake.
Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” And if a man who’s widely regarded as one of history’s greatest leaders can make a misstep from time to time, so can you. In fact, the real distinction between average and extraordinary leaders often emerges in the wake of a big mistake. Don’t pass the blame onto others. Own your mistakes and set an example of how to bounce back quickly and strategically. Taking responsibility for your blunders only makes you human in your employees eyes and you likely earn more respect when you follow up with a plan to address the situation and get back on the right track.
Myth: Management and leadership are the same thing.
Just as you can be a leader without being a manager, like in the example above, you can also be a manager without being a great leader. Being promoted into a management position doesn’t automatically mean you know how to lead. One of the biggest follies that affect new managers is being promoted too soon. You can have the work ethic, knowledge base, and unique insight required to do the job, but if you can’t communicate with and relate to those you lead, it will be difficult to earn their trust and respect. Teambuilding is an important part of leadership. A team divided among itself or one that just can’t seem to get on the same page faces an uphill battle for success.
What are some other leadership myths you’ve encountered during your career? Let us know in the comments section below.