3 Leadership Myths We All Succumb to and How to Stop Them
There are three myths about leadership that limit most managers’ effectiveness, even preclude them from being a leader.
These myths have been popularly identified and discussed, so most, perhaps all, of you reading this article will say “I know about that and I’m not guilty of it.”
Well, I beg to disagree.
Just because we intellectually understand myths—and even if we “generally” don’t subscribe or fall prey to them—doesn’t mean that we are “never” or “rarely” guilty of them; and much more often than we might imagine.
We must constantly earn trust, respect and the right to be followed.
If we want to be the best we can be, and I know we all do, then diligence and discipline in self-awareness and emotional intelligence are imperative.
Simply knowing about potential pitfalls is useless.
Don’t YOU fall prey to the fallacy that “knowledge is power.” It isn’t.
The habitual, effective use of knowledge is power.
Don’t Believe Your Own Press – The Death of Leadership Development
I’m Sorry – But You Aren’t as Good as You Think You Are
You’ve likely heard of Optimism Bias.
Managers, like all people, are often guilty of this.
Optimism Bias causes us to think we are better than we are—
This might be even more true for managers.
Managers become managers because they are driven, results-oriented people who are typically getting better results than their peers.
But therein lies several dangers.
First of all, not only are most managers lacking in people skills and a high level of emotional intelligence
They also believe they are leaders when they aren’t.
They believe people are following them.
When people are simply following social and political protocol and self-interest.
As I speak about these myths, you might begin to think “so what’s the point? We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”
Hold tight. After I present the myths, I will provide leadership development solutions for mitigating or eliminating the damage these myths present.
1. The myth that because people are respectful with you, they actually respect you.
Most people are reasonably intelligent.
And Just because they ACT respectful doesn’t mean they actually respect you.
It probably means that they are intelligent and have everything to gain by being respectful and plenty to lose by not being respectful.
To lead people, we need them to respect us in actuality and not just in superficial practice.
2. The myth that they follow you because they eagerly do their work or do it well.
First of all, refer to myth #1.
Chances are, they are just be playing the corporate and self-survival games.
Secondly, maybe they like their work or are professionally driven and are eagerly following their dreams and goals, not you.
Honestly, the chances are better that your people aren’t following you. They are following common sense, corporate politics and/or personal gain.
If we want to get the most from people, we need them to follow us. To be inspired, energized and in genuine rapport with us. We must commit to ongoing, never-ending and substantial leadership development – including emotional intelligence, confidence and communication skills, among the other primary leadership traits.
3. The myth of title or authority as leadership.
Again, first refer to myths #1 and #2 above.
You don’t fall prey to this one you say?
Yeah, right. How about that Florida swamp land you were going to sell me on the cheap? I’ll buy that before I buy this story.
How to Mitigate, Possibly Eliminate, Falling Prey to These Myths
First and foremost, the human brain is driven to safety. To continuation of life.
As such, we are natural followers.
That is, as long as there is someone compelling and safe to follow.
Someone who is powerful, knows who they are and where they are going and communicates how this might also compel us.
So how can you increase the likelihood of Being Perceived as a Leader?
As emphasized above, recognize the need for and commit to constant, daily leadership development. Do NOT believe your own press. You are not as good as you think you are. More specifically though…
1. Have a clear, compelling vision of a better way or outcome.
One that resonates for your stakeholders, based on THEIR values, vision and goals—
you must get to know human nature in general and your people in particular to accomplish this.
2. Be confident and certain in yourself AND in the mission and vision you share with your people and its grand value to all stakeholders.
The huge difference you make in others’ lives.
Live this vision with passion and purpose each day, in all communication, behavior and action.
3. Sit down with your team and craft, then absolutely live and personify, the virtues, values, and habitual behaviors and actions, that lead clearly and directly to actualization of your vision.
4. Make it about the better way, the vision and your stakeholders and NOT about you or even your desire to actualize your vision— make your thinking, believing, behaving and acting about your people and your mission.
5. Constantly care, communicate, connect and cultivate your stakeholders— and from their perspective of what’s in it for them, NOT from your perspective of what’s in it for you or for them.
People want to follow you.
But you must give them good reason to.
You must earn this each day.
A Few Core Principles in Leadership Development:
2. Emotional intelligence.
3. Purpose, Passion, Vision.
4. Care, Communicate, Connect, Cultivate.
Serving others serves us.
We need others to get where we want to go.
Focusing on how we get where we want to go and why it’s important to our stakeholders, then crafting and living beliefs, behaviors and actions that facilitate our vision is how we get there.
Maintaining self-awareness of the ever-present pitfalls of Optimism Bias will support your mission.
Remain vigilant in the realization that you will fall prey to Optimism Bias and stay committed to mitigating its potential limitations and damage.
But counter-balance this self-awareness and diligence with genuine, deep confidence, passion and commitment to your abilities and your certain, positive vision— our better way that will help other people actualize their needs and desires.