10 Common Misconceptions About Leadership
Here are 10 of the most common myths about leadership:1. Leaders are born. This is the first and most common of all myths about leadership. Though some people have innate leadership qualities, it is rare. Leadership is not a personality trait, but it is something that can be learned. Anyone, at anytime, can exercise leadership when the proper principles are applied. The extraordinary circumstances that surround them propel them to become effective leaders. You can learn leadership skills by consistent efforts. 2. Leadership is easy. This statement could only be made by someone who has never led. Leaders do not have all the answers. What leaders do have is a vision and a sense of direction. They too learn from others. Leadership is hard, but rewarding. It is one of the most difficult jobs imaginable. Leadership is about attitude and not about knowledge. Even if you study thousands of books, you cannot develop leadership skills until you combine learned knowledge with the right attitude. 3. Leaders are charismatic. Although some leaders have magnetic personalities, leadership is not about personality. It’s about having depth of character, an intense passion to fulfill a mission, and consistent, persistent actions to further a cause. Charisma is not the absolute quality of a leader. What leaders do posses is the ability to influence people even if they don’t have a distinguished personality. Leaders are often followed because they are respected for their hard work, integrity, ideas, and commitment. 4. 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. 5. Leaders don’t work; they just give orders. Leaders do not always give orders, though their position often requires them to do so. More often, they inspire others to do what is required of them in a given situation. No one works harder than an effective leader! 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. 6. Leaders are the highest ranking person or the one with the biggest title. Being an effective leader doesn't require a particular position or title at all. Effective leaders know that respect and influence must be earned and are not guaranteed because your organization bestows a particular title or position on you. In the film "Braveheart", William Wallace states, “Men don’t follow titles; they follow courage.” 7. Leaders only delegate mundane tasks. True leaders empower others to succeed by making assignments, clarifying responsibilities, assigning resources, monitoring progress and offering suggestions. Leaders 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, they pave the way for new leaders to emerge. 8. Leadership is an ability given only to a few or those of a certain age. Everyone is a leader. In some area of life—home, school, workplace, church or community—everyone has a leadership role sometimes. Leadership is a continuum: There are small case “l” leaders with minor responsibilities that involve and affect few people. There also are capital “L” leaders with major responsibilities that involve and affect many people. There is no specific age to become an effective leader. Leadership has nothing to do with age; it has everything to do with influence. People become effective leaders with what they learn from their past experience, not just with increasing age. Young people are leaders, too. They are not only “the leaders of the future”; they are leaders right now—today. 9. Leaders gain popularity by making people happy. Everyone likes to be liked; but, leadership is not a popularity contest. Leaders seek to do the right thing, for the right reasons, with the right people and for the right results. Mark Twain said, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” 10. Leadership is about prestige, power and status. Certain leadership positions bring prestige, power and status. There is nothing wrong with any of these things as long as the leader has the right perspective and motives. Leadership is about serving others, not about being served.