7 Leadership Lies You Need Stop Believing
Being a great leader is no easy task.
Leaders have certain skill sets and a mindset that sets them apart from other people.
Leaders are constantly improving themselves – and others.
That being said, today we live in an age that is constantly seeking quick fixes and easy answers.
In fact, even leaders sometimes abdicate their thinking to others and accept “prevailing wisdom,” which is often an oxymoron.
And believe it or not, leadership myths do exist.
I grew up, like most, accepting many things at face value. It wasn’t until I started giving important issues like leadership a second and third thought that I realized I’d been believing what turned out to be some serious leadership lies.
Here are seven leadership lies you should know – and why they simply aren’t true.
1. “All managers are leaders”
The truth: Some managers can lead, and others cannot. And in certain cases, some managers can lead but simply don’t.
Management and leadership are not the same thing. In fact, management is a subset of leadership.
Management is not leadership’s equivalent.
Managers are good at certain things: setting up, monitoring, and maintaining systems and processes. They hire people and so on – but what sets apart leaders from managers is that leaders strive to bring out the best in people.
Leaders work hard to improve an organization by helping employees learn, grow, and improve in their own roles to take the organization to the next level.
If a manager does not do this, they are not leading.
Remember: leadership always involves change, improvement and growth.
2. “Some are born leaders”
Truth: Even people with a predisposition to lead must learn the skills of leadership.
Just like a young, 6’6 athlete might have a predisposition to play basketball, in order to play successfully he must learn the skills first.
Never focus on someone’s biological background. Instead, focus on developing a person’s behavior.
A great leader is always growing and developing himself and others.
When a leader stops growing or developing his skills, he is no longer a leader. The passion to question, learn, grow, adapt, and change are fundamental parts of being a great leader.
3. “Leaders always have the right answers.”
Truth: Leaders ask the right questions and know where to find the best answers.
If your people always come to you for answers, you’re stunting their ability to think.
And if everyone in a company is asking a leader the same questions, that leader is not as innovative as they may think they are.
A leader has to be curious. They have to always wonder things and ask questions. This is how they learn and grow. If they don’t ask questions, they use familiar answers long after the marketplace has started asking different questions.
Remember: it isn’t about knowing all the answers, it’s about knowing what questions to ask, who to ask , and where to look that makes all the difference.
4. “You need a title to lead.”
Truth: To lead you only need to know when it is appropriate to lead, and how to do it.
The fact is, you don’t need a title to be a leader.
When I’m staying at a hotel, the majority of the people I encounter — from the front desk to housekeeping to foodservice — have no formal title or power over people.
Yet, they are responsible for creating my experience there — good or bad.
Good staff members who take the lead are sometimes more important than leaders. The ones who take the effort to make sure the organization stays on top are the types of people that leaders shape. If a leader can shape an employee like this, they’ve done their job.
A leader teaches everyone to take responsibility. In an organization with a great leader, everyone leads regardless of their title. This is what sets good organizations apart from others.
A leader can make or break an organization. And it is his responsibility to ensure that every employee leads in his or her role, regardless of their title.
5. “Leaders are focused.”
Truth: Leaders create a shared focus.
While managers are focused, a leader creates shared focus. A great leader does not waste resources by allowing team members to do work that doesn’t matter or lead to achieving an organization’s goals.
If a team isn’t focused, it doesn’t matter how focused a leader is.
A great leader makes sure that his team is focused. It is this shared focus which leads to success, and it is creating this shared focus which is one of a leader’s most important jobs.
Focus is about self responsibility. It’s about discipline. But creating a shared focus is about engaging others and bringing them into the leadership agenda while making it specific to their jobs.
Remember: A great leader brings a team together.
6. “Leadership is about ambition.”
Truth: leadership is about the greater good.
Ambition tends to serve the ambitious. If what you’re doing only serves you, you’re not leading.
A great leader does what is for the greater good to accomplish a goal and achieve success. A great leader doesn’t only do things to serve himself, but he does them to serve others.
A great leader uses this ambition to motivate others to achieve a goal. He serves others to help them achieve their goals.
7. “Anyone can lead.”
Truth: Nobody can lead if they lack the desire to do so.
A good leader wants to lead. They have a passion for leading. A desire to lead.
You can’t just make someone lead. You can’t make a person lead any more than you can make a horse drink once you’ve led it to water.
Effective leadership is about the desire – the passion – to lead, to improve, to grow, to help others reach their own greatness. They overcome challenges and learn from these challenges.
Remember: nobody improves by accident. Improving is about getting past the common thinking, lies and misconceptions. It’s about digging for wisdom.
Once you know the truth, it can set you free.
It can make you a better leader.
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