Some of the Most Common Misconceptions on Leadership and How They Affect our Way of Thinking About the Subject

There are common misconceptions on leadership that influence our way of thinking on the subject and affect how we face everyday challenges. My interviews, research and case-studies on leadership have helped me come up with three false beliefs in many people’s ideas about the necessary abilities to practice leadership and the main implications of being a leader. These three misconceptions are that:

 

1. Leadership is a process of acquiescence and subjugation of others.
 
2. Leadership is an innate ability and limited to a minority of people.
 
3. Leadership is a demanding, exhausting and difficult task to practice and implement in any domain or aspect of one’s life.

 
 

1. Leadership is a process of acquiescence and subjugation of others.

The concept of leadership is not the same as administration or management. The manager makes decisions about the material, financial, technological and human resources of his company or team whereas the leader attempts to influence and mobilize others (co-workers, clients, collaborators, etc.). The leader’s influence depends on many factors and these vary according to the situation and the group or person the leader is trying to influence such as: the ideas put forward, the credibility of each individual, the relations between members of the group, the power of the figureheads of authority and the professionalism with which the tasks are executed to name a few. The practice of leadership is the collaboration between individuals of a group or organization to solve problems, to make decisions and to act in the interest of the common objectives.

 

The practice of leadership at a superior level is to influence on others to take action for the achievement of a common goal and not to influence with the desire to subjugate. There can be a situation where an individual in a position of authority attempts to dominate and charm others. However, the belief that leadership is a manifestation of power and subjugation over others can lead to negative results, manipulative behavior and a lack of trust between members of a team. Confidence is one of the main characteristics of leadership.

 

The practice of leadership can be used to influence a colleague, a boss and even a spouse in any situation, for example:  to mobilize oneself and a co-worker to take the appropriate actions to adapt to changes, to achieve results that meet a client’s expectations, to develop an innovative solution, to make a difficult decision, to persevere despite the difficulties and problems that arise or even to change a way of thinking. There are many situations that require leadership abilities and that can be applied by any individual. The practice of leadership is not restricted to individuals in positions of power or management.

 

2. Leadership is an innate ability and limited to a minority of people.

The belief that leadership is limited to people with special abilities and that these cannot be developed by other individuals can lead to divide the world in two groups of people: those who are born leaders and the others who are not. My experience with leaders from different domains demonstrates that this is not the case.

 

There are people who require less effort to develop qualities related to leadership such as: the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently, personal confidence or the forcefulness of an energetic personality. However, even individuals who have a greater predisposition to develop their leadership abilities will have to work hard to apply them in everyday situations. The opposite is also true: an individual who does not have strong leadership abilities at first can work to develop them to mobilize and influence.

 

There are great leaders who were born with weak leadership skills and that developed them gradually because they were motivated by their objective and by the desire to influence. There is the case of Gandhi, who was an extremely timid person and of Winston Churchill who had to develop his communications skills in order to get his message across. Despite the initial difficulties, these historical figures took the risks and the approaches needed to achieve their goal and subsequently inspired thousands of individuals and created armies of followers who saw them as leaders.

 

The leaders I met during my interviews and my case-studies on leadership told me that their leadership abilities were developed through their various experiences and reflections:

  • On the current situation
  •  

  • On their expectations of the future and the actions to take to manipulate it
  •  

  • On what the knowledge they acquired from good and bad experiences
  •  

 

Any intelligent and willing individual can develop their leadership skills. There are many reasons why an individual should and can become a better leader and why it is not a difficult and exhausting task to achieve.

 

3. Leadership is a demanding, exhausting and difficult task to practice and implement in any domain or aspect of one’s life.

The development of one’s leadership abilities means having a greater impact and being more involved in everyday situations and in one’s life. How do successful leaders get involved in everyday situations and manage to have an influence on others?

 

The practice of leadership can be compared to a physical performance or workout. A sedentary individual that is observing an athlete performing can think that the performance is difficult, exhausting and demanding because he does not know better. The athlete’s workout is actually giving him a feeling of wellbeing and strength due to the hormones that are stimulated and the psychological impacts of a physical performance. The practice of leadership can also provide the leader with a feeling of wellbeing and strength.

 

The opposite of leadership is waiting on others to make decisions without attempting to voice your ideas and opinions on a subject or on the approaches to take to face a situation or a challenge. The individuals who let themselves be influenced by others can progressively develop a passive and negative approach to situation and miss out on opportunities to influence.

 

The ability to take risks, to discuss and bring up a different perspective and approach, to solve common problems and to find solutions can help the aspiring leader to become more confident in one’s contributions and ideas. The development of leadership skills and their application in everyday situations can help to build authentic relations with others, to become more confident and get more involved in one’s life. The impact of practicing leadership can also be a feeling of wellbeing that overcomes the initial stress of facing any situation.

 
 

Conclusion.

There are false beliefs and convictions on leadership that can influence our everyday lives and our way of thinking about solving problems and interacting with others. The development of one’s leadership skills by practicing and applying them in situations and by participating in discussions about common challenges and goals can lead the aspiring leader to discover within himself an unlimited source of energy and the potential to influence anyone in any situation.

 

Edith Luc

 

© Edith Luc. All Rights Reserved.


2 Responses to “Some of the Most Common Misconceptions on Leadership and How They Affect our Way of Thinking About the Subject”

  • 1 Wedding ideas Says:

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  • 2 edith Says:

    First of all, thank you for the comment, it’s great to hear that my work and ideas are appreciated and that they will be applied in your situation. I took a look at your blog, it is very interesting, I especially enjoyed the part about the wedding cakes! I am about to publish an article on T-shaped learning, an important aspect of shared leadership, hopefully you will appreciate it as much as this one.

    Edith Luc

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