5 Leadership Myths Busted
Leadership. Is it something you’re born with? Something you learn? Something you acquire? The correct answer is: it’s all of the above. You don’t have to be an executive. You don’t have to be rich and famous. You don’t even need to be a manager in order to lead.
Anyone can be a leader, regardless of experience, rank or tenure. Leadership is all about your belief in the goals of the team and the organization, and your ability to actively pursue them.
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Let’s debunk five common myths about leadership that may be preventing you from stepping up when it counts.
Myth #1: To be a leader, you have to talk the talk.
How many times have you heard the buzzwords? Synergy, out-of-the-box, scalability…they’re all hot business terms that get tossed around in a lot of meetings and brainstorming sessions. While they have their value, they aren’t required. Speak with confidence and do your homework, and the specific words you choose won’t matter.
Myth #2: To be a leader, you need to be the smartest guy in the room.
The qualities that make a great leader aren’t necessarily connected to your I.Q. Asking questions, seeking advice, and framing issues in a new way are all necessary for a good leader to become great. The funny thing about those qualities is that they’re actually a struggle for I.Q. superstars, who operate in more siloed ways. So worry less about a test score and more about nurturing your natural tendency toward efficient communication and green-light thinking.
Myth #3: Leadership means having the right title.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some managers are underwhelming leaders, some leaders don’t excel at being managers. The two are not one in charge. Think of leadership as the way you do your job, instead of the specifics of what you do. Not sure you’ve got what it takes? Task yourself with making a positive change in your team or department. Shifting things toward the better is a hallmark of effective leadership.
Myth #4: Leadership is only for the people in charge.
It’s not the position that makes the leader, it’s the leader that makes the position. We all have to start somewhere, and if your role is more junior or you don’t have much tenure with the company, that doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable insights and contributions to share. Often, leaders don’t have all the answers themselves and look to their colleagues and subordinates for fresh ideas. Be ready to step up when these opportunities present themselves.
Myth #5: Putting in lots of years is the only way to become a leader.
First, to be considered a leader, you have to be actively pursuing a vision and bringing others along to join your cause. Having been around for a long time doesn’t automatically mean you’re good at rallying your coworkers to follow your banner. Being proactive, offering your input when appropriate, and demonstrating your willingness to pick up the slack and roll up your sleeves are a few things you can do to sharpen your leadership skills whether you’ve been at the company for six months or sixteen years.
Once you’ve purged these myths from your mind, go forward and lead. Focus on practical things like being a guide, being a visionary, getting involved with planning, thinking ahead, and using the influence you do have for positive change and growth.
For one practical example, consider this 3-step process to demonstrate your IT value to help close more sales. From John C. Maxwell: “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers is only taking a walk. If you can’t influence others, they won’t follow you. And if they won’t follow you, you are not a leader.”