10 Common Leadership Myths And How To Overcome Them

Common Leadership Myths

Are you an aspiring leader and ready to hold a leadership position? Before you start your journey as a leader, check out common leadership myths and how they can result in undesired outcomes.

Before we start exploring leadership myths, let’s take a moment to examine these three “truth or myth” questions:

Truth or myth? Caffeine and its effects are addictive.

Answer: We can hear it now, “I can’t start my day without it, I’m addicted!” We even feel what some call withdrawal symptoms when we don’t get our morning brew on. This is a myth! By accepted definitions of “addictive,” caffeine is not addictive.

Truth or myth? I need less sleep as I get older.

Answer: Yup, many of us sleep less as we get older and we assume that as we age, our sleep needs decrease. This is a myth! While getting enough sleep is healthier mentally and physically, we need the same amount of sleep regardless of our age.

Truth or myth? Eating at night causes weight gain.

Answer: Many of us refrain from eating past a certain time at night thinking it will lead to weight loss. Some even adopt the age-old practice of eating a big breakfast, a lighter lunch, and an even lighter dinner all in the hopes of losing those pounds. This is a myth! It doesn’t matter when in the day you eat. The USDA and nutrition experts say it’s about how many calories you take in versus how many calories you burn.

Did you know the correct answer to any of the myths above? If not, don’t be surprised. Most of us have come to believe these fabrications.

Why is it that we have these beliefs and carry them with us in our day-to-day lives?

Mythology resonates soundly with us today. We have an uncanny ability to be able to remember specifics about myths far more readily than details about more mundane matters. One of the reasons for this is that it’s much easier to recall information when it’s in the form of a narrative as opposed to in its raw state. Myths make it easy.

Sometimes myths can be of tremendous benefit to us in that we’re able to remember a situation from which we can learn or grow. Captivating stories allow us to make sense of more multifaceted matters by crossing psychological, social, political, or even spiritual lines. But myths have a downside as well. Without challenge, myths become gospel, and we can find ourselves hanging on to thoughts and practices that are simply ineffectual.

Since myths are a comforting way to explain the unexplainable, it makes sense that we’d depend on myths to help us in our leadership journeys. When we take a complex concept like leadership and depend on myths to explain it, we fall into an intellectual and emotional trap that fails to serve those we lead. Tradition, legends, and folklore become our guiding principles and we’re blind to the reality of today’s leadership challenges.

Here are the 10 most common leadership myths and how to overcome them:

1. Aggressive leaders get results

Not always. In fact, oftentimes forceful leaders introduce performance barriers and anger those who they rely on. Being aggressive isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of insecurities and a way to mask the weaker individual within.

It often leads to relying on coercion to get things done, resulting in bare minimum effort and limited results. Meanwhile, loving leaders who work well with others are the ones accomplishing the mission.

Also, read 14 Signs You’re An Emotionally Intelligent Person

2. Leaders are supposed to have the answers

Let’s hope not. The complex world in which we lead is far too volatile for us to have the answers all the time. Anyone who thinks they must have every solution is fooling themselves, but not those they work with.

We all need to depend on others to fill in the gaps, give us insights into what we might be missing, and provide their expertise. Being vulnerable and humble creates a bridge to team members, nurtures trust, and fuels creativity.

3. Leaders don’t have enough time

No one feels like they have enough time and leaders are no different. Time is limited, there are only so many hours in the day. The best leaders make better choices on how they spend their time. They put time aside to increase their self-awareness, build relationships, and care for themselves and their employees.

They invest their time in their employees and know that employees will invest their discretionary energy and time in return.

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” – Donald McGannon

4. Extroverts make better leaders

The main difference between the extrovert and introvert is that extroverts think as they speak and introverts speak after they think. To be truthful, they both bring tremendous advantages and some disadvantages to the workplace.

Neither has the edge over the other where leadership is concerned. Both can exude love, be authentic, and find joy in the workplace.

Also read 7 Imposter Syndrome Myths You Should Know About

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Zina Sutch

Zina Sutch has been leading development and diversity programs for the Federal government for 20 years, and currently serves in the Senior Executive Service. Patrick Malone spent 23 years in the Navy and served as an officer in the Medical Service Corps. Zina is a faculty member and Patrick is director of the Key Executive Leadership Program at American University. Their new book is Leading with Love and Laughter: Letting Go and Getting Real at Work (BK Publishers, Inc., May 25, 2021). Learn more at sutchmalone.com.View Author posts