7 Popular Myths about Leadership

One thing I learned in obtaining a master’s in leadership is that defining leadership is difficult. John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence.” I love that simple definition. Still, I have observed that there are many myths when it comes to even what that means.

Here are some 7 of my favorite myths about leadership:

A position makes one a leader – Some believe that simply having a big or fancy title makes one a leader. Not true. I’ve known many people with a position whom no one was truly following. They may give out orders and command a certain obedience, but no one is willingly following their lead.

If I’m not hearing anyone complain, everyone must be happy – The fact is that sometimes the leader is the last to know about a problem. Some people are intimidated by leadership. Other times, they don’t know how to approach the leader, so they complain to others, but not the leader.

I can lead everyone the same way – Actually, people are different and require different leadership styles. (Read a post I wrote about that subject HERE.)

Leadership and management are the same thing – Great organizations need both, but they are not equal and they require different skills. (Read a post I wrote about one difference HERE.)

Being the leader makes you popular – The truth is, many times the opposite is true. Leaders can be very lonely people. (I wrote about that HERE.)

Leaders must be extroverted charismatics – Not true. Some of the best leaders I know are very introverted and subdued. Leadership is about influence. If someone is trustworthy, dependable and going somewhere, others will follow.

Leaders accomplish by controlling others – Absolutely not. That’s not leadership, that’s dictatorship. Effective leaders encourage others to lead, be creative, and take ownership and responsibility for accomplishing the vision. (Read the difference in leading people and controlling people HERE.)

What other myths about leadership have you observed?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “7 Popular Myths about Leadership

  1. "If I am not hearing anyone complain everyone must be happy. So glad you included these on your list of leadership myths. I have witnessed company failures which can be attrbuted to commiting this very same mistake. Here comes the very important role of effective communication and feedback in leadership. A good leader must not only focus on communication from top to bottom, but must ensure a feedback mechanism is in place to facilitate a bottom to up kind of communication. This will ensure that ideas, opinions and feedback of followers are voiced out and acted upon the organization.

  2. Some other myths about leadership I have you observed:

    — Leadership is a function of academic success (In other words, good leaders have more education than other people)
    — Great leaders are expert at playing politics
    — Leaders are born and not made
    — Leaders know everything
    — Leaders are infallible
    — Leadership comes with age

  3. Nice article. I agree with you on all myths that you have described. In my opinion, Influence and Inspiration is the key. People often tend to influenced by just observing leaders. Several times our action and our presence is what catches people's attention and they get inspired to follow. Thanks for writing this article. It is a useful resource.

  4. Hi,
    Last many days I am searching some good article and I am very glad to find your article. This is very essential and informative information for me. I would like to say your post is superb and relevant my topics.

  5. These are important things to remember and know about leadership. I use to think having a title makes you a leader but now I know it does not. I have seen many people with a title who where not leader's while others who did not have a leadership position but where leaders. Great post!!!