10 Common Leadership Myths And How To Overcome Them

Common Leadership Myths

5. Leaders don’t make hard decisions based on feelings

We all know that leaders make tough decisions all the time. In fact, it’s one of the things that leaders are paid to do. Often these decisions are based on data, as they should be.

However, when we base our decisions solely on data and metrics and ignore the feelings of those who are impacted by the decisions, we miss a tremendous opportunity to build bridges, trust and get that much-needed buy-in from employees. Emotional intelligence matters.

6. Leaders tell it like it is

One of the more common misconceptions about leadership is that leaders are confident in what they believe — that they take a “no holds barred” approach to telling it like it is. Rarely, if ever, is this the best approach. The way we deliver a message is not the way everyone receives it.

Leaders need social awareness and sensitivity in order to convey their vision in ways that people can understand and be inspired. The best leaders have a connection with their employees and deliver the message in a way that will ultimately be better received.

7. Leaders make mission first

The problem with this often-repeated mantra is that a mission can’t be accomplished without its people. It’s people who will implement the decisions made by leaders and devote their time and energy to mission accomplishment.

They are first. If people don’t come first, mission accomplishment will be mediocre at best. Mission matters of course. It’s the reason that we work in any given organization.

But having a mission first by definition means that everything else comes second. Waving a mission accomplished flag when its people feel undervalued and uncared for is a failed mission.

8. Leaders are highly credentialed and educated

This is perhaps one of the biggest fallacies of leadership. Not only have numerous individuals with well-known college degrees and intellect failed miserably as leaders, but many out there without college degrees have become tremendous leaders.

What matters most is the ability to continue to know one’s self and know the people that work for them. This human connection is what matters most.

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9. Great leaders are born

This can sometimes be true, but not always. Leaders are mostly made. We all have the capacity to learn to lead, and leadership takes continual work and learning throughout one’s career. We’re not limited in any way by our genetic composition in terms of our ability to influence and inspire others.

10. People will take advantage of a humble leader

This is true only if the leader allows it to happen. Leaders with humility show tremendous character strength and are better able to connect with others and build high-performing, productive teams. A humble leader is also well equipped to address poor performance and inappropriate behavior clearly and directly.

We can learn a lot from mythology and such stories offer us a sense of grounding and comfort. It’s simply a lot easier to depend on things that we assume to be true as opposed to doing the hard work to discover the truth for ourselves. With the time-sensitive, hyper-competitive nature of the workplace, it’s no wonder leadership myths thrive.

What we can’t do is depend on mythology, legend, or stories as substitutes for effective leadership. The role of the leader is far too important to fall into the trap of leaning on unproven theories about what works.

Instead of accepting things at face value, leaders must be lifelong learners and seekers of the truth about who we are, how we relate to others and our impact on our organizations. This demands humble inquiry, discernment, and reflection on the part of leaders everywhere.

Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.


Written by: Zina Sutch
Originally appeared on: Addicted2Success
Republished with permission
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10 Common Leadership Myths And How To Overcome Them
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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