Three Common Leadership Myths and How to Avoid Them
When working with MAP clients, it’s not uncommon to discover that at the root of their challenges exist some key leadership beliefs that are causing more harm than good. Whether these beliefs are based on some old way of thinking that’s no longer relevant or on something that’s undermining or preventing the desired results, these ideas aren’t actually true—they’re called “myths.” Unfortunately, when leaders base decisions and other activities on mythical thinking, they’re apt to run into trouble, struggle to earn or maintain respect, create impact, and get results. When you think about your own leadership, what myths or popular “stories” have you told yourself over the years? Dig deep and ask if these stories help or hurt you (and those you lead). If you’re not getting what you want out of your business and leadership potential, it’s possible there are some stories you need to explore and possibly debunk. Call upon your courage and wisdom to find out in which ways these myths have power over you.
Here are three common leadership myths to avoid:
Myth 1: Great Leaders Have All The Answers
Well, there’s no denying that many leaders have lots of great ideas and solutions. But no leader is perfect—they all have their blind spots, shortsightedness, or areas of weakness. The best leaders know this and, instead of reacting defensively to their deficits, they make it a habit to humbly turn to others for help, particularly when it matters most. They learn to ask the right questions, doing it skillfully and regularly. And they practice curiosity on a regular basis. Instead of just accepting status quo answers and solutions, these leaders openly wonder about and entertain all the possibilities, exploring new directions and even avenues of risk. Finally, they aren’t afraid to put the brakes on hold and suspect critical decision-making if they’re not getting the answers they want or need.
Myth 2: Great Leaders Do All The Talking
Wrong. The most effective, well-respected leaders know it’s far more important to listen more and talk less. Why? For starters, when leaders talk all the time, people come to see them as being a bore. And as we all know, when any leader is seen as a bore, no one is going to care what he or she has to say. So the trick is to train your brain to stop and reflect before opening your mouth. If it’s something really important or relevant, say it. But try to listen more, setting a goal to listen 80% (and talk 20% of the time). Listen more and you’ll likely be seen as being interested. This, in turn, will help you to learn more from those around you and better earn the respect of those you lead.
Myth 3: Great Leaders Must Be Slaves To Their Job
At MAP, we see this happen all the time—and it’s one of the most common reasons company executives and managers suffer emotionally, mentally and physically. They put fitness, nutrition, good sleep, personal relationships, and a host of other vital contributors to their wellness on the back burner. Problem is, the fallout hurts everyone and everything in these leaders’ paths. Yes, it’s true, leaders like you—those who are passionate and invested—may tend to work very hard and put in extra hours to get the job done. But that doesn’t mean you put the business ahead of yourself, sacrificing your health and happiness. Find a way to strike a balance. Manage that line between your personal and professional life by creating habits that support your wellbeing.
What are some common myths you’ve seen leaders operate under in your professional past?