10 Common Myths about Leadership

10 Common Myths about Leadership

Leadership refers to the ability of a person to motivate and inspire other persons towards a common goal. It is a critical management skill in the corporate world where the manager should lead his team towards achieving a common objective.His role as a leader is crucial in maximizing and integrating the potential of available resources. For that, he needs multiple skills, which many of us may think cannot be developed by an ordinary person. More often than not, we nurture certain misconceptions about leadership. Knowing what these misconceptions are helps us understand what leadership is really about and enables us to build effective leadership skills.

Here are 10 of the most common myths about leadership.

1. Leaders are born and not made: This is the first and most common of all myths about leadership. Though some people have innate leadership qualities, it is rare. Mostly, leaders are made by their circumstances. The extraordinary circumstances that surround them propel them to become effective leaders. When it comes to the corporate world, you can learn leadership skills by consistent efforts.

2. Leaders know everything: It is not true that leaders know everything under the sun. What leaders do have is a vision and a sense of direction. They too learn from others.

3. Leaders are infallible: Leaders do make mistakes like all humans do. In fact, they could even appear to commit more mistakes than all of us because they take more visible decisions at every stage than others do. However, what differentiates good leaders from others is that they are candid in admitting their mistakes and in learning lessons from them.

4. Leaders only give orders: Leaders do not always give orders, though the position they are in requires them to do so. More often, they inspire others to do what is required of them in a given situation.

5. Leaders are charismatic: Charisma is not the absolute quality of a leader. Leaders are often followed because they are respected for their hard work, integrity, ideas, and commitment.

6. Leaders have imposing personalities: Leaders need not have impressive personalities. Though, sometimes, this does help attract people. What leaders do posses is the ability to influence people even if they don’t have a distinguished personality.

7. Leadership comes with age: There is no specific age to become an effective leader. People become effective leaders with what they learn from their past experience, not just with increasing age.

8. Leaders possess absolute power: Not true always. Their true effectiveness is measured by their ability to command a following without wielding absolute power. Leadership is not tyranny. Bad leaders resort to strong arm tactics when their leadership fails and so end up creating followers. But if leadership succeeds, it creates leaders.

9. Leaders never delegate important stuff: Leaders do delegate the right work to the right person. They share work and responsibilities judiciously and get the job done. And this in no way undermines their credibility. In fact, as I said earlier, they pave the way for new leaders to emerge.

10. Leadership can be attained through study: Leadership is about attitude and not about knowledge. Even if you study thousands of books, you cannot develop leadership skills until you inculcate the right attitude.

The misconceptions listed here are not what make you an influential leader but your ability to inspire a shared vision, facilitate collective efforts to reach a common objective and identify and nurture the right talent.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Teesh

    Leadersship is a quality which is emboided by someone’s ability to inspire others around them to be better than believe possible. From Alexander to Mark Messier, these are the types of individuals that illustrate such a persona.

    That said, Leaders, or in the working world for most, also known as managers, are often times promoted to “leadership” roles purely by virtue of their individual achievments and not so much about what they “inspired” others around them to do. As the article states “Leaders are often followed because they are respected for their hard work, integrity, ideas, and commitment” however in many smaller organizations which haven’t yet matured, it’s purely the “hard work” component that is focused on and not much on anything else because often times the owner/CEO or other higher level executives are not willing to listen to the ideas of those below them. I’ve personally experienced situations where a manager will say something like “it doesn’t matter where the ideas come from” however when the ideas are contradictory to their own they are instantly discarded.

    All in all, I think the article is pretty accurate in the depiction of what makes a “good” manager, if not somewhat over simplified. However if many companies even took some of the stated information to heart, I wouldn’t be surprised if they experienced a better workplace with improved morale, imspired employees, and ultimately, inspired products.

  • Kenda Marks

    Leadership is not positional or based on authority. Leadership is about having the ability to positively influence others.

  • Asma,

    I really liked your article on leadership. It is so important to know what each staff member can achieve and is willing to do- whether they are in the right role or would flourish- for themselves and the company, in another role.

    Giving great feedback on even the most trivial of tasks, if not on anything else, is also great. Knowing the staff member’s motivation works very well. A leader knows this and works with it.


  • Stephen Sunguro

    Thank you for your article. The common myths about leadership that you mentioned gives an insight on how one should view their qualities and make sound decisions!

  • Leadership is not cheerleading. Despite the word leading being in the name, a cheerleader is nothing more than a person on the sidelines…

    To your massive success,
    Steven Young
    The Leadership Dr

  • Dorothy

    A leader is someone who isn’t afraid to put people that are as strong or stronger than themselves on their team. They are able to let those people do their jobs without micro managing while being there for support, guidance and encouragement. I think when this happens, people are inspired to accomplish their as well as the common goal.

  • Ragib

    leadership is NOT about you

    Leadership is NOT about being the best

    Leadership is NOT about Money alone

    Leadership to me is being a catalyst to change – A change that improves the quality of people around you.

    Leadership is about identifying the root cause and providing solutions that are feasible and viable

    Leadership is about listhing to your peers and collabaration to arrive to a solution

    Leadership is about belief in a cause
    Leadership is about being an influencer that improves the quality of life
    leadership is about insipiring
    leadership is about being a guiding force
    leadership is about being a mentor

    my 2cents

  • Leader is a person who can control his/her own emotions and motivate others emotions to establish productive outcome. Misconceptions about leader are they are always branded as a person who must at anytime use limited resources with good planning, organising, controlling and monitoring skills to produce productive outcome. Anyhow this concepts are too old for millenium leaders. Now those who cn inspire productive emotions for productive outcomes are great leaders. Productive Actions Reinforcement is the utmost important behavior good leader must possess.

  • Brett

    Leadership is not an easy thing to measure.
    Each person has an ability to lead to vary degrees of effectivness. The effectiveness of the leader has a direct relationship to their environment, followers and experrience. Emotions are only part of the equation and will affect how the leader is viewed by thier followers. There are many a good leader who have led well and failed to achive a productive outcome. Leadership is a mixture of many different elements (experience, effectivness, confidence, commitment …) that come together to produce a result.

  • Victoria

    Leadership is not…
    a push style rather it is a pull.
    This “pull” style of leadership attracts and energizes people to enroll in a vision of the future. It motivates people by helping them identify with the task and the goal thereby fully engaging them

  • Philippe Asselin

    I would agree that a servant’s heart is key in a true leader. I believe the biggest misconception about leadership is that it is “doing” something to someone. This misconception seems to most frequently lead to manipulation, coercion, or other short term strategy. The temporary leader makes you feel like you have to do it; the true leader creates a “want to” environment.

  • The biggest misconception about leadership is that it is easy to lead. Leaders make it look so easy but it is not, based on my experience, this role takes a lot of hard work and thoughtfullness . Leading has great responsibilities.

  • A common misconception in my opinion and experience is that people assume that leadership skills/behaviors are things that only the top dogs should know and exhibit, rather than everyone in an organization (in different forms, of course).

  • You know a good leader when people aspire, achieve, innovate, enjoy and succeed….and when you look for the catalyst….well…you are not really sure… because surely leaders are teachers and a good teacher allows others to believe they worked it out themselves.

  • Jeanette Ko

    Leaders of thinking people do not “boss” they listen. They mold themselves to fit the team, the circumstance, the project, the culture etc. They do not expect the team to mold to them. They assess constantly what is needed, missing, required and they respect and use their teams strengths and talents.A really good leader hires to his weaknesses, knows what he is good at, what he wants to do and realistically, what he doesn’t want to or have time to do. He protects and fights for his team, weathers the storm with them, and acknowledges their commitment and contribution to the project.He knows from the beginning what he is willing to sacrifice to stay true to the product or project. He stacks the deck in his favor whenever possible, and he is always, unceasingly, strategic. A true leader, is only as a good as the team that supports him.