The capacity to have internal clarity in who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re getting there is a game-changer when the role of leader becomes less physically evident and the constraints on teams so varied. This is challenging given how simple it is for emerging leaders, as well as established ones, to internalize the numerous leadership myths that continue to pervade our societies, workplace environments, and beliefs. In a post-pandemic world where we have learned we can’t rely on a playbook or a one-size-fits-all strategy, you run the risk of a disconnect between what people believe makes them leaders and what it really takes to be one if unrealistic standards are allowed to flourish within your company.
Some of the most common myths are:
- The most capable leaders are those with experience.
Although having prior experience as a manager or corporate officer in a relevant field might be beneficial, other traits are frequently more important. Effective leadership requires maturity and commitment, but project planning skills, people skills, and organizational skills can add more value than just experience.
- All successful leaders are extroverts.
Being outgoing is not necessary for being a successful leader, but having confidence and mental focus are. As long as a person has strong organizational, planning, and communication skills, they have the fundamentals of an effective leader. Many introverts are not shy and do have the expertise, professionalism, and empathy required to inspire and lead project teams, even though they may not be the best candidates for most leadership jobs.
- Leaders shouldn’t display weakness.
This viewpoint serves no useful purpose. It tries to provide the impression that leaders don’t make mistakes and don’t have common human traits with other people. Leaders who openly and honestly discuss their shortcomings and “lessons learned” are frequently more accessible, motivating, and appreciated than those who put on a show.
- People can be followers or leaders from birth.
Some kids do seem to have a natural leadership style from an early age, but many others can grow into excellent leaders with a little support and direction. Although those “hidden” strengths can be developed at any age, the greatest approach to raise future managers is frequently through an organised management training programme for adults.
- Leaders should always take the lead.
Some leaders thrive on the spotlight, while others perform best in the background. Even though keeping a high profile can be advantageous for both corporate and public relations, excessive visibility could have diminishing advantages.
- It is expected of leaders to be faultless.
Leaders frequently rely on a talented team to help develop strategies and carry out plans, they recognize that they cannot know everything. Leaders should be aware of their limitations, maintain accountability, collaborate with personnel to keep on task and distribute praise when achievement is attained. Rapid, continuous, and disruptive change is now the norm, and what worked in the past is no longer a predictor of what will work in the future, according to the Harvard Business Review.
- Non-Leaders lack the necessary skills to be a leader.
The fundamental skills required to manage people and projects are typically possessed by workers at any level who are industrious, quality conscious, resourceful, and proactive. Additionally indicative of leadership potential are initiative, an optimistic outlook, and the capacity to motivate coworkers.
- Every employee responds well to one type of leadership.
That assertion might be accurate if everyone had the same personality, the same learning preferences, and the same work habits. Effective leaders frequently make an effort to build rapport with their team while tailoring their management style to the strengths and shortcomings of each employee in order to level the playing field.
- The best feedback is none at all.
Employees may not approach leaders with recommendations, grievances, or even criticism because they believe them to be “unapproachable.” Team members will feel more respected, at ease expressing their ideas, and involved in their work if there is an “open door policy” in place and they are reminded that their thoughts and concerns are welcome (and won’t be used against them).
- Leaders advance according to their qualifications.
In reality, many people who have advanced to managerial and executive positions are not usually the best competent. Many times, they might not have the necessary leadership qualities. The Peter Principle, a best-selling book from 1969 that still holds true today, comes to mind when considering how employees are being mismatched to leadership positions. Firms prioritize current job performance in promotion decisions at the expense of other observable characteristics that better predict managerial performance.”
Those who believe in the company’s objective, have a talent for motivating employees, and exhibit the capacity to remain calm under pressure are some of the best leaders—not necessarily the ones who are the most outspoken or exciting. This, along with a strong work ethic, aptitude for problem-solving, empathetic nature, and upbeat outlook, are traits that frequently lead to great management potential. Having open discussions with employees about their career aspirations, skills they’d like to pick up, and potential modifications to their job description can help you see past leadership misconceptions and find promotion possibilities. Along with the propensity for people to be given labels and unintentional presumptions about them, these factors can contribute to leadership myths that can impede professional development and company growth.