Everyone has an idea of what they think a “leader” looks like, but how many of these expectations are actually true in practice? Those with a leadership mindset tend to hold themselves to extremely high standards, not realizing that they have been a leader since day one. With all these misconceptions swirling around, take a look at these top five leadership myths, debunked.
Myth #1: A Title Makes a Leader
Leadership does not come solely from the top; instead, it comes from a capacity to inspire. Absolutely anyone can be inspirational and drive change, sometimes without even intending to do so. Revolutionary ideas, words of wisdom and exemplary role models don’t come with a title. Occupying a position of importance in an organization gives you a larger megaphone, but it is how you use that influence that makes all the difference. How are you using that power to change lives?
Myth #2: Leaders Know Everything
Although you probably feel pressure to provide all the answers, being a leader does not mean you have a magic wand that will make everyone’s problems disappear. Most of the time, being a leader means coaching others through their difficulties instead of providing an easy solution by doing the work yourself. Other times, you may find that someone else on your team is better suited to tackle a specific problem than you are. Don’t be afraid to delegate even important tasks.Most people won’t walk up and tell you what they want out of a leader, but it's still your job to find out the best ways to inspire on an individual basis. Click To Tweet
Myth #3: Leaders Take All the Credit
At Southwest Michigan First, our morning meetings are called “Scrum,” borrowed from the rugby term. In that sport, the first eight players function as the scrum: It’s their job to fight for the ball. I chose this analogy because in rugby, you don’t always get to be the one to carry the ball across the goal line. Often, the play demands that you support your team in other ways. Just because you don’t get the glory of a touchdown celebration doesn’t mean that you weren’t integral to the success of the team.
Myth #4: Leaders Lead Everyone the Same Way
You have to treat everyone fairly, but not everyone is motivated in the same way. Leadership is not one-size-fits-all: Some people are driven by recognition, some want to build a rapport, and others need to be challenged. I used to make the mistake of leading as if everyone were like me with a goal to become CEO, but that is not the case. Most people won’t walk up and tell you what they want out of a leader, but it’s still your job to find out the best ways to inspire on an individual basis.
Myth #5: A Leadership Journey Ends Behind a Desk
This myth separates the leaders from the rest. After you finally get that corner office you have been working for, you might feel like you can put your feet up and relax. But the reality is that your work is just beginning. No one is going to give you a gold star and say, “Congratulations, you are now a leader!” Your leadership legacy will be measured by the impact you make in the lives of others, and the best way to prepare yourself to do that is through continual learning and improvement.