Myths are a comfortable way to explain the seemingly unexplainable. So it makes sense that we would depend on them to help us in our leadership journeys. But when we depend on myths to interpret a complex concept like leadership, we fall into an easy trap that fails to serve those we lead well. Things like myths, tradition, legends, and folklore can easily become our guiding principles, but they may blind us to the reality of today’s leadership challenges. 

Here are the 5 of the most common leadership myths and how you can overcome them:  

1. You must be an aggressive leader to get results

This is not always true. In fact, forceful leaders often introduce barriers to good performance and can easily anger those who they rely on. Being aggressive is not always a sign of strength. Sometimes, it’s a sign of insecurities and an easy way to mask the weaker individual within. This type of leadership often leads to relying on coercion to get things done, which can result in bare minimum effort and limited results. On the other hand, caring leaders who work well with others are more likely to be the ones accomplishing their mission.  

2. To be a leader, you have to have the answers

The reality is that the complex world we live and lead in is far too volatile for us to have the answers all the time. Anyone who thinks they have every solution to every problem is fooling themselves and their team members. All of us, even in leadership, need to depend on others to fill in the gaps, give us insights into what we might be missing, and provide their expertise. Being vulnerable and honest about our gaps in knowledge creates a bridge to team members, nurtures trust, and fuels creativity among teams.  

3. Leaders never have enough time

It is rare that someone believes they have a surplus of time on their hands, and leaders are no exception. Time is one of our most limited resources. But the best leaders put massive efforts into becoming master time managers. They are intentional about putting time aside to increase their self-awareness, build relationships, and care for themselves and their employees. Great leaders invest their time in their employees and know that employees will invest their discretionary energy and time as a result.

4. Extroverts are better leaders than introverts

The truth is that both introverts and extroverts bring tremendous advantages and some disadvantages to the workplace. Neither one necessarily has an edge over the other where leadership is concerned. Both are capable of exuding care, authenticity, and great leadership in the workplace. 

5. Leaders never make decisions based on feelings

If you’re in leadership, you know that the job comes with the responsibility of making tough decisions all the time. In fact, it’s probably one of the things you are explicitly paid to do. As often as we would like to make these decisions based on data, facts, and objective factors, it’s just not possible every time. When we base all of our decisions on these things without considering the feelings of those they will impact, we miss a tremendous opportunity to build trust, confidence, and gain that much-needed buy-in from those we lead. Emotional intelligence is a vital component to good leadership. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking it.