Ten myths about leadership

A true leader draws on the best qualities of others, awakening in them what is not yet fully awakened. In the corporate world, such leaders are critical to business success. The ability to unlock people’s potential, encourage them to apply their talents, and work toward a common goal is the main skill of a true leader. However, many (including those who aspire to leadership) view leadership in a completely different way, influenced by images cultivated in the media, by teachers, or by leaders with whom they have worked in the past. I’ve counted ten qualities that are often attributed to leaders-but don’t actually help them become better leaders.

Myth #1: Leaders should encourage competition among their team members

Some leaders force people to compete to perform better, trying to outperform their peers. If a soccer coach were to follow this principle, he would have to tell the goalie that he should compete with the forward. While competition encourages people to put in extra effort and perform better, encouraging collaboration and leveraging the combined strengths of employees is a more productive approach. When people are inspired by a common cause that is more important than their disparate actions, it leads to better teamwork and results.

Myth #2: Leaders must have complete control and direction over their charges

By having complete control over people and giving commands, some leaders can better manage the situation and do things as they see fit. But in reality-and research proves this-the leader’s dictatorship hinders innovation, and people work better when they are trusted.

Myth #3: Executives must dwell in an unreachable ivory tower

Managers who wall themselves off from the world by their offices and stress their elitism obviously believe that they inspire respect in their employees. In fact, in order to inspire people, you need to connect with them-and this is easiest to achieve by talking to them face-to-face. In addition, an engaged leader is more aware of the reality of his or her team’s situation and finds ways to solve day-to-day problems.

Myth #4. Leaders must be charismatic

It is true that some leaders can be charismatic. However, many leaders gain respect by their attitude, diligence, and ability. As my friend Dr. Nido Kubane says, “It’s not charisma that matters, but authenticity.” Successful leaders are authentic.

Myth #5. Real leaders are natural-born leaders

Yes, some leaders are naturally gifted with leadership qualities, but most acquire these qualities through experience, training from mentors, and a burning desire to lead. Strictly speaking, even innate leadership must be honed and enhanced by experience.

Myth #6. Leaders are people assigned to leadership positions

A true leader does not need a high position to lead, just the right attitude and desire to be in charge. Informal leaders are necessary for every organization at every level.

Myth #7. Leaders need to know everything

The best leaders know their weaknesses and hire those who are smarter than they are and have better skills in the right areas to learn from them and achieve a common goal together. No one person-even a leader-can know everything. For a team to work best, each team member must contribute his or her own expertise to the common cause. Leaders understand that mistakes happen. They also understand that they need to learn from those mistakes – and take steps to prevent them in the future. Leaders know how to get stronger after mistakes.

Myth #8. Leaders need to be older and more experienced than the members of the team they lead

In some cases, as a person gets older, they have more experience to lead. However, this is not a prerequisite. There are many examples of young, capable and energetic leaders who have instilled new thinking in the organization.

Myth #9. Leaders are selfish and narcissistic people

A good leader is humble enough to understand that success can only be achieved with the help of others. And the rest of us need to realize that leadership is not the only factor in success and you can’t achieve your goals alone.

Myth #10. Leaders don’t delegate high-level work

Great leaders create leaders, not followers. They create leaders because they are good role models and allow their teams to exercise their abilities by entrusting them with important work.