Common Leadership Myths by Mark Wager

Common Leadership Myths by Mark Wager

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Common Myths about Leadership

By Mark Wager

There are many of us who believe we have a lot to offer this world and one of the ways to do this is to  become a leader. Someone who in the words of John Quincy Adams performs actions that inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. There are many of us who aspire to be leaders while others have the mantle of leadership thrust upon them but is leadership what we think it is? There are a lot of misconceptions out there and we need to be aware of those misconceptions so that we can truly understand what leadership really is. In this article I will be exploring some of the most common myths about leadership.

Myth: Leadership is glamorous

To be honest being a leader can give you a bit of a buzz but there are times when difficult decisions have to be made and it is in these times that a leader has to prioritise the greater need of the team ahead over any personal interests and that can be difficult. Leadership is about doing what needs to be done and a lot of the time that doesn’t require you being behind a desk or in front of your team. Sometimes the greatest examples of leadership is standing side-by-side in the trenches with the team or even behind them doing the jobs that others won’t do.

Myth: Leaders are born not made.

This is an old myth and still today all too commonly mentioned. The suggestion of leaders being born instead of being made is not only outdated but disproved by scientific studies many times over. Leadership is a series of behaviours and skills and like all behaviours and skills they can be learnt. Nature may give you a head start but it’s what you do that makes you a leader.

Myth: You have to be loud in order to become a leader

One of the first things I make perfectly clear when I develop leaders is that every person has the potential to become an equally effective but unique leader. There are a lot of leaders who are introverted in nature. I’m one of those people. We all have our preferences. Leadership is about being aware of those preferences and being prepared that there will be times when you will need to act outside of those preferences without straying too far from the person you are.

Myth: Leadership is the same as management.

While often considered the same leadership and management are very different. Management is the responsibility and control over people and resources in order to achieve an objective while leadership is the influence over people in order to achieve an objective.

Myth: Leaders know all the answers

If you know all the answers you are not a leader you are a genius and you shouldn’t be reading this article. Leaders are people and people have limitations. It is unrealistic to know all the answers and it’s not healthy for a team to be so reliant on one person. An elite leader influences the team so that questions/problems can be answered by using the collective knowledge and experience of the team. A true leader never stops learning.

Myth: Leaders have to distance themselves from the team.

While some people prefer closer relationships with their colleagues than others it is not an essential requirement in the role of a leader. Leaders can be approachable and likeable. A true leader knows that they are not more important than anyone else in the team. Sure a leader may have different skill sets and the rarity of those skill sets may mean they are paid more but it doesn’t mean they are more important than anyone else in the team.

Myth: Leadership is a position.

Management is  a position but leadership is not. Leadership is a mission. Remember  leadership is about influence and influence within an organisation can come from many sources and not all of those sources are at the top of the management structure. Effective teams have leadership at all levels.

Leadership in many ways is about the search for truth. Finding the truth within yourself, finding the truth within your team and finding the truth behind the challenges you face. It is misconceptions like the ones above that cloud the truth and make the path of leadership a more difficult journey. It is time to cast these myths aside and learn the truth about leadership.

About the Author:

Mark Wager is an international author and one of New Zealand's leading Leadership Mentors. To become a better leader contact Mark via the enquiry form below

Posted: Monday 11 November 2013