The Myths of Leadership

We look up to leaders. Even leaders look up to other leaders! We also tend to buy into some leadership myths and rarely question them. That makes leadership confusing and mysterious when it’s really not. I’ve studied and coached many leaders over the years. Let’s do some mythbusting!

Leaders Are Born that Way

Nope. The truth is leaders are made.

Three seated babies with one labeled "leader" and question marks

Sometimes it’s circumstances or the influence of other people that create a leader. Even fewer seize the initiative and are “self made”. Very rare, but it can happen.  

Leadership is a process and you can make leaders. It’s not the case that there are just a few leaders and they’re born that way.

Leaders Are Powerful People

There are powerful leaders. But the great majority of leaders aren’t loud or powerful. Really. So why is this myth so believable?

We tend to only think about those few powerful leaders and we reduce the entire pool of leadership to those select few. The fact is, there are many more leaders than the few greats.

Leaders don’t have inherent power–or more real power than others. Leaders are only as strong as the people who follow them and yield their power to the leader. Some leaders command the respect of many or exhibit charisma, but these are still examples of power or influence given to them by others.

Leaders Have it Easy

Sometimes those in charge abuse their position and take it easy. Let’s face it: some in positions of leadership are coasting.  

Other times good leaders make the job look easy (even when it’s not). Leaders carry responsibility not just for themselves but for the collective effort of those they lead. They often put in more work than is evident and make more sacrifices.

If you want the easy route, leadership is not the way.

Leaders Are Machines

I don’t mean that in a good way.  Leaders are machines, or at least that’s how many of their followers treat them. Let’s explore this a little further.

Many people treat their leader like a vending machine. We get our goodies from them: resources, permission, approval. When I’m running low, I go back to my leader or their local representative.

Sometimes, we think leaders are inspiration machines. When I’m down, I need my leader to provide the inspiration, to light up the fireworks when things are boring, to stick it to our rivals when I want to feel like a winner.

Afterall, the leader makes things happen. They’re a rock and roll machine!

a large piece of industrial machinery

The Ultimate Rock Solid Machine

Machines don’t have feelings, and even though I want my leader to generate the feels for me and the troops, I want the leader to be rock solid, not squishy or wobbly. If they have any emotions, make them the positive and powerful ones. Spare me the dark and dismal kind.

Okay, maybe not robotic and unfeeling. I want my leader to be human and relatable. I want a leader who’s a Greek hero, almost god-like, but half-human.

Of course this is parody. But if real leaders aren’t machines, would you settle for a flawed human?

You Want a Myth or a Human?

There are many more leadership myths. These are four of the most common ones.

Leadership is rewarding, but it’s not for everyone, even though everyone can grow their personal leadership. That’s another myth–that leadership is static and out of reach for most people. If you want to grow personally and contribute to others, we always need more leaders!

Get in touch with us to discuss your own desire to grow leaders or your own leadership.

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