Skip to main content

Seven Myths About Leadership That We Should Stop Believing

Chris has worked in a business leadership role for the past 15+ years. He likes to share his experiences with others to help them learn.

What are some common myths about leadership that plague the workplace today?

What are some common myths about leadership that plague the workplace today?

Why Are There so Many Myths About Leadership?

In many cases, leaders are often seen as the “owners” of a company regardless of whether or not they actually have an ownership stake. Leaders are seen as responsible for making sure that everything is running smoothly and according to plan. In addition, people often look to leaders for clues about what is acceptable in the workplace and what is not. Leaders are often given a level of responsible charge that is greater than what is expected of everyone else.

With this responsibility and visibility, it is no wonder why there are so many myths about leadership. Moreover, leadership remains nothing but a mystery to many people, hence, why there are so many leadership books, blogs, and seminars available to workers. To be a successful leader and to ensure you are focusing your leadership efforts in the right areas, one should learn the truth about the myths that surround it.

Leadership Myth #1: Leaders Are Born

Leadership is often thought to be something that we are born with. Of course, being born with certain traits and natural inclinations toward leading people can help (as would any natural talent); however, it has been proven that you do not need to be born a natural leader to become one.

Some believe that leadership skills cannot be taught, but it is important to note that there are examples of people who were able to learn these skills and become leaders. Leadership is a skill that can be learned just like any other skill that one might use in the workplace. Furthermore, leadership skills can be honed and improved by those who want to take the necessary steps.

Leadership Myth #2: Leadership Is Something You Can Learn in a Book or Online Course

Leadership is also not just something that can be learned in a book or online course. It is more complex than that and requires the ability to lead by example and with empathy.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, leadership training programs will not give you what you need. You’ll never learn how to be a leader simply by reading a book or taking an online course. However, Knowledge without action is useless. If someone who wishes to be a great leader can simply study the great leaders of the past and present. By studying the habits and actions of great leaders, we can learn to become better leaders ourselves.

Leadership is part science and part art. While the science part can be taught, it’s the “art” part that gives many people the most trouble. Leadership is the art of empowering others and inspiring them to accomplish great things. The best leaders know how to build trust and make people feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it!


Leadership Myth #3: Great Leaders Are Always Optimistic and Cheerful

A great leader should have an attitude that is positive and cheerful at work. They should always be looking for the next opportunity to help their team grow. In addition, leaders often have a knack for finding ways to make sure that everyone is getting along well with one another while keeping them motivated and on the same page. However, we have to remember that leaders are human, just like you and me.

While many people might put leaders up on a pedestal (I’m talking to you Elon…), we can’t lose sight of the fact that leaders have to deal with the same problems and challenges as most people. In some cases, the challenges and pressures that leaders face on a daily basis could far exceed that what most people would experience.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that sometimes even the best leaders can get angry or depressed. This is normal, and we wouldn’t consider them to be a human if they acted like an emotionless automaton. On the contrary, it’s precisely the fact that leaders can have an emotional response that makes them great in the first place. Imagine a leader without passion? That would be no leader at all.

Leadership Myth #4: The Ability to Lead Is Equal Across Different Companies and Workplaces

In most places, leadership is not an automatic right. It’s a privilege that should be earned each day through good deeds, hard work, and perseverance. I’ve been witness to many situations in the workplace where people felt that “it was their right” to be the next department manager or CEO simply because they have “put in their time.” Having work experience does not necessarily equate to having the skillset or vision to be a leader.

True leaders take ownership of their actions, responsibilities, and work results. Over time, the great leaders will likely rise to the top, climbing the so-called “corporate ladder” as a direct consequence of their work ethic and leadership ability.

Leadership Myth #5: Leaders Must Have an MBA Degree

Some people believe that in order to be successful at the executive level, one must possess an MBA degree. This means studying business administration and management, as well as taking courses in accounting, finance, marketing, economics, and statistics. However, leadership is more than just education or experience.

Traits like charisma, intelligence, knowledge about the industry they are working in, and the ability to work on teams are all important qualities of a good leader. These are skills and traits that cannot necessarily be obtained from a traditional degree attainment program.


Leadership Myth #6: Leaders Need to Be Charismatic

Charisma is the ability to attract and influence others through the use of one’s charm, personality, personal beliefs, etc. It is often confused with confidence or extroversion, but they are different traits altogether. While leaders should be able to work with people, they do not need to be charismatic in order to do so. However, good leaders need to be able to build trust and make people believe in their vision; otherwise, it would be hard for them to lead their team.

Charisma can be used for good or for bad, depending on the person in question. Some leaders choose to use charisma for selfish reasons while others want to use it in order to motivate their team members towards a common goal that benefits everyone involved. Obviously, selfish leaders that are charismatic will not typically last long in a leadership role.

Leadership Myth #7: The Best Leaders Are Always Nice

Nice leaders can be good leaders, but they might lack other qualities like empathy, assertiveness, accountability, etc. Being nice and being a good leader are two completely separate qualities that are not necessarily related. Elon Musk is often cited as an example of a great leader who isn’t always playing “Mr. Nice Guy.” Just ask the many people that he has fired over the years! However, no one can argue about Elon’s ability to create a vision and to get people to passionately work towards achieving the impossible.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Christopher Wanamaker