Natural intelligence, education and technical expertise is no longer enough to be a great leader in today’s business world. Compounding this issue is the sheer enormity of conflicting information out there from books, articles and other resources, many of which perpetuate leadership myths that could be leading you astray from your goals and objectives. Consequently, tuning out the perpetual noise and distractions advocating these leadership myths is more important than ever. Simply sidestepping these leadership myths can go a long way toward helping you develop into the leader you are striving to be.
4 Leadership Myths to Nix Today
1. Great Leadership Requires First-Rate Education and Connections
One of the most common leadership myths is that certain schools and class advantages create great leaders. However, there are countless examples of high-profile industry leaders who didn’t come into success through the traditional channels of education and connections. Richard Branson struggled in school, dropping out at 16 years old to start Student magazine. The first edition sold $8,000 in advertising, and the rest is history. Rachel Ray created a culinary empire despite having absolutely no culinary qualifications.
For these leaders, an entrepreneurial spirit unites them whether they owe their success to having an extraordinary vision and the tenacity and patience to see it through or taking risks and making massive sacrifices. This passion to deconstruct societal norms and fight against expectations does not come from formal training, certification or qualifications. It comes from within.
2. Faking it ‘Till You Make It
Of all the leadership myths, coaches and consultants are most notorious for advocating “fake it ‘til you make it” to build confidence. However, merely emulating great leaders will not make you one yourself. Furthermore, give your team’s judgement some credit. A good team is going to sense if you’re merely playing a part, significantly hindering your ability to lead them. You need to stay true to your values and belief systems. If you are behaving in a way that misaligns with these, then you are dead in the water. So, be true to yourself when you develop your leadership style and behaviors.
3. Admitting Vulnerability Makes You Weak
You’re human. This comes with a full spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. Behaving as though you are disconnected from a large and very relatable part of the human experience only serves to isolate you. In fact, social researcher Brené Brown indicates that revealing weakness, admitting failures and acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers are among the bravest actions leaders can demonstrate. When you pretend to be immune to inherent parts of the human experience, you risk losing loyalty, trust and respect. Your ego will survive admitting fault, but your leadership may not survive grandstanding through your mistakes.
This doesn’t mean that you have to expose every vulnerability you have to your team. In fact, you should actually carefully consider where holes in your protective shield will serve the team and its objectives best.
4. No News is Good News
Just because your team isn’t speaking up doesn’t mean that all is well. It could be that your team doesn’t feel safe to voice their concerns, admit mistakes or confess they are struggling. There is a great deal that could be going on beneath the surface of a positive exterior.
A Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) survey found that 38 percent of workers would not disclose mental health problems to their manager. More than half of these workers felt that it would harm their careers. However, the primary reason these workers would discuss mental health challenges with their superiors was having a positive working relationship with the individual.
Consequently, it’s critical to put forth genuine efforts to create trusting relationships with the members of your team. You can also use anonymous surveys to get feedback from all members on how to improve processes and systems before problems even start. Furthermore, by implementing your team’s suggestions, you also show that you value their ideas and contributions, which helps build trust.