Leadership is in my blood! I was only fourteen when I developed my first leadership training program, and despite my early start it was a long time before I was actually good at it. I struggled early on because my leadership was driven by the many myths and misconceptions that are out there about leadership.
We grow up hearing all sorts of things about leaders and leaderships, but most of them are myths. Those myths and misconceptions led me down the wrong path and created “false expectations” about leadership. Leading with false expectations put a lot of pressure on me, undo pressure.
So leadership and leading was frustrating and often disappointing. And imagine many of you have experienced very similar frustrations.
Wouldn’t it be great for leadership to feel like a natural way of being, instead of a task?
You can become a much more effective and influential leader when you are able to differentiate between myth and reality. So I’m going to break down the Top 5 Leadership Myths that might be getting in your way.
The Top 5 Leadership Myths
Myth #1: There are natural born leaders
FALSE- Many people are born with a natural drive and initiative to lead, but that doesn’t mean you have the skills and know-how to be an impactful leader.
Reality #1: All leaders need hard skills acquired through training and experience
Being able to tackle the day to day challenges of leading in real time requires training and experience. Great leaders are self-aware and pay attention to areas where they need to grow, and invest in their own development. Learn new strategies and techniques and practice them in your daily leadership.
Myth #2: Position equals power
Your position and title is not enough to motivate others to follow you. It’s like when your mom said “Because I’m the parent”, it didn’t inspire cooperation, it probably inspired defiance.
I’m the boss is equally ineffective.
Reality #2: People follow those who they share a common vision and belief with and trust
You have to create a common vision and establish trust and buy in with your team. Find out what is important to your team and how they envision the future, then work together to come up with a shared vision for your work together and the future of your organization.
Myth #3: The Golden Rule- Treat others as you would like to be treated.
I can’t remember how young I was when I first learned this rule, but I know at the time it seemed like a simple and practical approach to getting along with people, right? If I want you to be nice to me, then I should be nice to you. Simple.
But people are tricky. So while the Golden Rule may work for basic interactions it doesn’t work for the more complex. Despite our commonalities, people are quite different from one another so it doesn’t make sense to treat everyone the same.
Reality #3: Platinum Rule- Treat people as they want to be treated.
Great leaders understand difference. They are able to communicate effectively and resolve conflict across difference based upon the needs of the other and not themselves. It’s important to understand how members of your teams (or your followers) are different from one another, in terms of their personalities, behaviors, values, work styles, and learning needs.
Effective leaders are able to acknowledge and understand those differences, then apply the appropriate behavior for each person in each situation. For example, some people can handle a little tough love, while others require a more gentle approach. As leaders, you have to be able to assess this and act accordingly.
Myth #4: There is only room for one at the top
I was tortured by this myth for many years because it made me competitive. The moment I fully understood that there was room for everyone to succeed, everything changed. People began to not only trust me, but rely on me and it resulted in some major career advancement.
Reality #4: Leaders are only as successful as those they empower, coach, and mentor.
Leaders equip and empower others to lead. When I embraced this belief my leadership took a 180, and it was powerful. No longer did I have the need (and the stress) of being the “boss”, but my work became truly collaborative and inclusive, and so much more enriching when I was able to create opportunities for others to lead and be more engaged in their work.
Myth #5: All men were created equal
While this remains a fundamental value in the US, it fails to be a reality. Inequality is not only a false reality in our culture, but also in our concepts of leadership. It blinds us from recognizing the differences between us and we ignore the individual developmental needs of our followers.
Reality #5: We are all different.
Your team will have varying developmental needs so evaluation is essential. Not only to assess their varying skills and attributes, but also their varying areas of growth. Leaders have to provide consistent and constructive feedback and training to ensure your team is fully equipped to do their job and grow beyond their current role.
Having “built-in” processes and procedures for regular evaluation is essential to making improvements at both the individual and organizational level.
Like me, drive and initiative has gotten you far, but leading is hard and requires some real and practical strategies to deal with the day to day reality of leadership.
If you want to know more about real leadership, sign up for our new 100% DIY online course:
Real Leadership: Empathize, Empower, and Make an Impact
It walks you through the 5 Steps to Real Leadership (fully debunking these leadership myths), a practical and hands on training designed to help you develop the essential leadership skills you need to be an effective and impactful leader now, while you are young. It is full of tools, tips, strategies, and practical exercises you can start using today.
You will learn exactly how you can:
- Create a shared vision with your team
- Communicate across difference and resolve conflict
- Coach and mentor your followers so they are empowered to lead
- Assess and evaluate your team and organization to make positive changes and improvements
- And successfully implement change and so much more.