5 Leadership Myth Busters

When a leader tries to lead she usually ends up tripping over her own feet. This happens because she is trying to be all things to all people instead of leading from her heart.

I’ve been there. A few months ago I was putting a big event together and instead of running the show like I should have done, I tried to be someone I wasn’t. By creating a fake persona I wasn’t allowing people to connect with the real me.

People can see through a lie. Their gut tells them not to listen and ignore you.

The problem is we think we know what a leader is, but leadership comes from within. I know, very Zen of me, but it’s not about that. It’s about letting go of what you think a leader is … and leading from your heart.

I’ve done a dissection of what leadership is and isn’t and I want to break some myths that many of you have about leadership.

Myth #1: Leadership is Difficult

Leading people is as difficult as you make it to be. If you think that listening to people is difficult then yes, you’re in for a rough time while leading others. Now if you enjoy listening to other people, leadership won’t feel like a chore.

Anything is difficult if you hate doing it, but you have to be open to enjoying your leadership role. Look at it as a way to teach and guide instead of a burden.

Myth #2: People are Born Leaders

No one is a natural born leader. We are natural born followers. Since we’ve been no taller than the first shelf of our book case we’ve learned to take instruction. Only as we’ve grown in experience have we been able to take on any kind of leadership role.

Leadership is all about practice. When you mess up, admit it, and get the project back on track. The more you mess up the more you learn. As you gain experience you see what works and what doesn’t. This is how leadership becomes a superpower. You stop thinking about every little detail and just do what’s needed.

Myth #3: You Should Lead by Example

I’m tired of people saying that we should lead by example. That’s a bunch of crap. A leader leads by being a good listener, asking great questions and communicating clearly. I worked for a boss who never got in the trenches and I was fine with it because he stayed in constant contact with me. He asked me what I needed. If I would have asked for his help in the trenches I know he would have joined me, but it’s not what I needed.

You need to lead from your heart. If you like leading by example go for it, but don’t do it too much. We need leaders to stand back and see the big picture. If you are doing too much of the work, you aren’t leading – you are taking away work your people should be able to do for you.

Myth #4: Empathy is a Bad Leadership Trait

Listening is the first rule of empathy. If you want someone to knock out a bunch of work for you, you need to find a way to remove their obstacles. By asking people what you can do to make their job easier then you make them happier and more productive.

I had a boss who never listened to a word I said. He never even allowed me to open up. The relationship didn’t last because I had no support.

You should think of yourself as someone who supports, not who sits in their office waiting to bask in the success. When you think of yourself as someone who has a supportive role you are reframing how to lead, you are emphatic for what your people need and how to make sure they get it.

Myth #5: People Should Work Hard Because They are Paid Well

Most managers I’ve worked for think that just because I was paid well meant that I didn’t need to hear a “thank you” or a simple compliment. We don’t do great work because we are paid well, we do work because we are internally motivated (a must watch video on motivation) to do so.

When is the last time you complimented someone for their hard work?

Giving out honest compliments to people because you appreciate their hard work is vital to developing a good relationship. People want to hear about what they are doing well so they can do more of it. It really is that simple. People understand what direction you want them to take the project. Without this positive guidance people become lost and lose motivation

Your Turn

What do you think is the best trait of a leader?

How have the leaders in your life been able to motivate you to do great work?

Karl Staib is a small business coach who helps people leverage their superpowers! If you enjoyed this piece, you may want to check him out on or join his free 9 Part E-course to a Happier and More Successful You.

Post image by Flickr user a2gemma

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