There are many misconceptions about leadership. It’s easy to develop these mixed messages when we have observed inconsistent models throughout our lives. Listed below are 10 common misconceptions about leadership. The paragraph after the misconception describes true leadership.
1. Leaders are born.
Leadership is not something some people are just born with like a personality trait, but it is a teachable skill. Anyone, at anytime, can exercise leadership when the proper principles are applied.
2. Leadership is easy.
This statement could only be made by someone who has never led. Leadership is hard, but rewarding. It is one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.
3. Leaders are charismatic.
Some leaders have a magnetic personality, but leadership is not about personality. It’s about having depth of character, an intense passion to fulfill a mission, and consistent, persistent actions to further a cause.
4. Leaders don’t have to work; they just delegate.
It’s true that leaders delegate work to others based on the needs of the organization and the individual’s abilities and interests. However, no one works harder than the leader.
5. Leaders are the people with the highest position, rank or title.
People in important roles all wield tremendous power and authority. But leadership is more about the person than the position. In the film Braveheart, William Wallace states, “Men don’t follow titles; they follow courage.”
6. Leaders tell people what to do, and then make sure they do it.
Some leaders view leadership as telling others to “jump,” and hearing them reply, “How high, sir?” True leaders empower others to succeed by making assignments, clarifying responsibilities, assigning resources, monitoring progress and offering suggestions.
7. Leadership is an ability given only to a few.
Everyone is a leader. In some area of life—home, school, workplace, church or community—everyone has a leadership role sometimes. Leadership is a continuum: There are small case “l” leaders with minor responsibilities that involve and affect few people. There also are capital “L” leaders with major responsibilities that involve and affect many people.
8. Leaders gain popularity by making people happy.
Everyone likes to be liked; but, leadership is not a popularity contest. Leaders seek to do the right thing, for the right reasons, with the right people and for the right results. Mark Twain said, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
9. Leadership is about prestige, power and status.
Certain leadership positions bring prestige, power and status. There is nothing wrong with any of these things as long as the leader has the right perspective and motives Leadership is about serving others, not about being served.
10. Only adults can be leaders
Leadership has nothing to do with age; it has everything to do with influence. Young people are leaders, too. They are not only “the leaders of the future”; they are leaders right now—today. God wants to use young people in the present and in the future to influence others for His kingdom.