The concept of leadership has evolved through the ages. And this evolution has given birth to many counterproductive theories and myths, such as:

  • Leaders have to be able to handle everything.
  • There can only be one leader in a group/organization.
  • Management is the same as leadership.
  • Good leaders are all extroverts.
  • A strong leader is infallible and invulnerable.

Leaders influence people through motivation, direction, and purpose to improve an organization and the individuals who make it up. Leaders make decisions and assume responsibility for the outcomes. People tend to regard successful leaders as larger-than-life characters with out-of-the-ordinary abilities.

We have an innate tendency to view successful leaders as superheroes.

Such a view is conducive to myths that permeate our culture, creating many misconceptions about leadership that may undermine the efforts of some to lead effectively. Here’s a look at some of these myths.

1. As a Leader, You Have to Handle Everything

For some people, leadership means assuming responsibility for everything at the workplace. Such leaders feel compelled to do everything themselves since they feel they aren’t good leaders otherwise.

Others feel that since they are in a leadership position, they have to prove over and over that they are smarter than everyone else, thus justifying their presence at the helm of the team or organization.

The solution: intelligent leaders have learned to accept that they don’t have to know everything to lead well. Leadership coaching holds in high regard skills such as the ability to delegate and tap into the unique abilities of employees and peers. An intelligent leader understands that every meaningful relationship is a unique resource and treats employees accordingly.

2. There Can Only Be One

The leadership paradigm of the industrial age placed great value on heavy-handed, vertical, top-down leadership. Nowadays, the authority structure of organizations is more horizontal, favoring the decentralization of leadership. The idea that all leadership decisions have to go through a single person is obsolete.

Leadership coaching encourages employees on all organizational levels to assume leadership roles when and where a need emerges. Organizations with employees ready to take charge to solve problems on the go are more flexible and better equipped to handle the challenges of the future.

3. Leadership Is Just Another Word For Management

Some leaders are good managers, and some managers are good leaders. None of this means, however, that good leadership is the same as good management. The two differ in most of their defining characteristics.

  • A leader sets a vision and an organizational purpose. A manager sets goals.
  • Many aspects of executive coaching deal with change management. A leader is a herald and manager of change. A manager works within the confines of the status quo.
  • Self-awareness is one of the defining competencies of a leader. For a manager, replicating solutions is more important than being creative.
  • The role of a manager is to build functional and efficient systems. Leaders, on the other hand, focus on building meaningful relationships.
  • Managers need employees. Leaders need followers.

4. Only An Extrovert Can Be a Good Leader

Extroverts are socially skilled people keen on engaging others. Introverts prefer to analyze situations internally, refraining from involving others. That’s how common wisdom defines the two personality types.

With that in mind, it is clear that extroverts cooperate better, seek advice more readily, and get other people involved in problem-solving. That should make them better leaders than introverts. The links between personality types and leadership traits are more nuanced, however.

Quiet reflection is one of the strengths of introverts.

Introverts are more inclined to build relationships one-on-one and truly listen to what people say. That makes them competent leaders who often outperform their extroverted peers.

5. Leaders Can’t Be Vulnerable

Executive coaching experts often encourage leaders to show vulnerability. By doing so, leaders will find it easier to build meaningful relationships with their peers and reports. Relating with employees on a human level is an essential requirement of intelligent leadership.

Some leaders may equate invulnerability with infallibility. Such leaders won’t tweak course or listen to others under any circumstances.

Intelligent leaders are as eager to receive feedback as they are to dole it out. Without showing vulnerability, a leader can’t relate with anyone on a human level.

Being an intelligent leader is an ongoing journey. The very definition of intelligent leadership may evolve in time, but fundamental human values never go out of style. To be the best leader you can be, don’t let old myths and preconceptions hold you back.

Eager to learn more about intelligent leadership and business coaching? Check out my books.


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