A myth is something that is false, but believed to be true. As in many things in life, there are several myths surrounding the concept and practice of leadership.
Unfortunately, these myths prevent qualified people from rising to the top. By listing these leadership myths, it is my hope to dispel many of the false beliefs.
Myth 1 – Leadership is a rare ability only given to a few
Many people still think leaders are born not made. This can’t be further from the truth. Most people have the potential to become good leaders. Leadership is not like a diet pill.
Like most learned skills, it takes time, training, and lots of trial by error. The key ingredient making people good leaders is the ability to care about others. The second ingredient is a sense of purpose, vision or mission.
A good leader charts a course and provides direction to those they lead.
Myth 2 – Leaders are charismatic
Many leaders are charismatic, but closer scrutiny shows that most leaders are not. Some of the world’s most famous leaders had warts–some sort of shortcoming or personality issue.
In a leadership role, people skills are very important–more important than technical skills. However, the best leaders are those who work toward a goal. Your cause, your purpose and your mission in life will make you charismatic, not the other way around.
Myth 3 – The person with the title, most rank or the highest position is the leader
True leadership is not based on position or rank. It is based on action, performance, ability, and effectiveness. We all relate to working for those people who were placed in leadership roles who did more to demoralize and destroy the business than anything else.
People naturally gravitate to those they want to follow, respect, and work with. There are no limiting job descriptions, job titles, and few rules and regulations. If a person comes up with a new idea, he or she puts a team together of people who have the desire and knowledge to make it work
Myth 4 – Effective leadership is based on control, coercion, and manipulation
Leadership is about the future, not the past. Joel Barker’s has the best quote about leadership, “A leader is someone you would follow to a place you would not go to by yourself.”
Good leaders gain followers out of respect and their ability to cause people to work toward a particular goal or achieve a destination. People follow because they can relate to the vision or goal personalized by the leader.
A good leader helps people become better than they are. A good leader creates a work environment that attracts, keeps and motivates its workforce.
Myth 5 – Good leaders have more education than other people
Educational degrees may mean you have a good education, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good leader. When it comes to leadership, experience is the best teacher.
The U.S. military has the best leadership development program in the world. In the military, you start out at the bottom. You are placed in leadership positions and closely evaluated.
As your experience broadens, so does your responsibility. This practical experience is reinforced with weeks and months of formal training throughout the individual’s career.