There are lots of misleading ideas about how to be a leader that persist in our work culture. Maybe you have been taught that leadership is more about being in control and getting people to do what you want them to instead of acting as a good model for others. Maybe you have some insecurities regarding leadership because you feel that you don’t embody generally accepted leadership attributes. In this article, we will talk about leadership and some of the misconceptions about it.
Leaders are models for others. For good or for worse, their examples influence the people they lead. In the workplace, good leaders motivate their team members to work towards achieving their goals. A good leader acts as an inspiration towards success, fosters growth in the people that they work with, and models a positive work environment.
There are lots of ways to be a leader. Picture the people in your life that have had a positive influence on your life. What kind of attributes do you admire in them? These can be people that you have watched from afar such as an athlete or community leader. Or maybe there are admirable leaders in your life such as a parent or a teacher. What is it about them that commands respect and admiration from you and others? Remember that they have likely worked through many hardships, as well as trial and error, to become the person that you came to admire.
See Through These Misconceptions
There is a lot of advice and literature out there on how to develop leadership qualities. Some of it is limiting and promotes unrealistic ideals of what it means to be a leader.
Remember that there is no need for leaders to fit the same cookie-cutter idea. Instead of beating yourself up over the qualities that you don’t have, it is more effective to optimize your unique personality traits and interesting world view to bring different approaches to leadership and work environments.Let’s go through some misconceptions about what it takes to be a leader.
- Leadership Comes With a Position: Leadership qualities can be developed no matter what position you find yourself in. On the other hand, a position doesn’t immediately give someone good leadership qualities.
- Extroverts Make the Best Leaders: It has generally been understood that extroverted personalities make for better leaders because they are seen as being social and gregarious. By the same token, introverts have been seen as needing to adapt to extroverted characteristics to do well in leadership positions. However, introverts can make great leaders! Introverts can be very personable. They can be great listeners and reflectors. These are useful characteristics that can make for observant and thoughtful leaders who emphasize the team and organization over themselves.
- Employee Stuff is For Others: Leaders set the tone for the workplace, so leaders in the workplace need to be involved with the team that they are over. If a leader focuses solely on the administrative and operational parts of their work while letting others take care of interpersonal work relationships, then they may be setting a tone of disrespect or competition in the workplace as opposed to teamwork.
- Leaders Should Know More Than Anyone Else: Leaders do not necessarily need to know more than everyone else they work with. You can expect a leader to know enough and to be knowledgeable about where they ought to be. However, a good leader should value the knowledge and skills of the people around them and should promote that expertise.
- Good Leaders Micromanage: A leader that micromanages indirectly communicates that they believe that they are the only one that can lead. It shows a lack of trust in others to do their work effectively. A well-run team should be able to motivate and support itself with a leader to provide general direction. When a leader micromanages this takes away from others being able to develop their leadership skills. A good leader will cultivate more good leaders.
- Leaders Shouldn’t Make Mistakes: All people make mistakes, including the best leaders. Leaders should be able to admit when they have made a mistake and be able to change direction and make improvements as needed. A good leader should not only be able to offer constructive feedback but should be able to receive it as well. A good leader is flexible and understands that their leadership style can change and evolve as different needs are presented.
- All Leaders Are Natural-Born Leaders: Leaders are not born but made. Like so many skills, good leadership is a skill that can be learned. While some people may tend to have generally accepted leadership characteristics, there is nothing genetic that automatically makes someone a good leader.
Get rid of your preconceptions about who can be a leader. With the right skills and motivation to help the team be the best they can be, anyone can be a leader.