Leadership is not some mythical art that you are either born with or not. There is no born leader. All great leaders are created through their willingness to continue learning, their behavior towards others, and their ability to think strategically to get the job done.
Here are some common other leadership myths that you may have heard about or even experienced in your own leadership walk.
The Position Myth
“I’m only the leader when I have the title.”
The Position Myth is one that new employees can find themselves falling into, but it also applies to people that are settled and content right where they are.
“I’m not a ‘leader’ so this doesn’t apply to me,” or “Nobody listens to me because I’m not the leader.” One of the common themes throughout our years at Passing the Baton is that you are a leader no matter your title or position.
You’ll always have at least one person in your life depending on your leadership…… look in the mirror, it’s you! It’s highly like that you have others as well that look towards your leadership and don’t care about your title. Think of peers, family members, friends, and even your boss and their boss. They may lean on your leadership in different ways, but they are all counting on you.
Those that fail to understand that leadership is about influence and not a position, typically don’t fare well with a formal leadership role.
The Contentment Myth
“When I land at my aspirational role, I’ll be happy.”
The Contentment Myth is the horizon that “A” type leaders are always chasing. The idea is that you’ll slow down, and enjoy life once you realize a major career milestone.
I got caught up in this myth during my own leadership walk. I had a level of leadership that I really wanted to reach with a singular focus. My family moved around quite a bit in the journey to reach that goal. Through hard work and the support of my teams and peers, I made it and became the 2nd youngest person ever to reach that role in a 100-year-old company. I was finally content in my career.
Not long after someone asked me what was I going to do next, and my answer of contentment was not good enough for them.
“You move around every 2-3 years. Wait until you hit that mark, and we’ll see.”
At 3 years, I was no longer content. I broke the trap of the myth once I fully turned my contentment toward seeing others become successful in their own career aspirations.
Slow down and enjoy the journey that you are currently on and let the destination comes when and if it does. You won’t miss special moments that are currently happening in your life, you will grow a larger appreciation for others, and you gain a higher level of satisfaction in your daily life in the process.
The Freedom Myth
“Once I make it as a leader, I’ll be free to do what I want.”
It’s easy to look up at the proverbial leadership ladder and think, “Why in the world are we doing this?” and “If I ever, land that job, I’ll finally be free of all this bureaucracy and will be free to make decisions to change this place.”
While it is quite possible to effect change as you step into a new role, you’ll probably lose more freedom than you get; or at a minimum trade-off levels of freedom in different areas of work and life.
In the reverse pyramid style of servant leadership, the higher you go, to more people that you serve. That means you trade off more personal and professional freedom in order to meet the needs of others.
Another way we sometimes can fall into the Freedom Myth is because as much as we may think we know about those above us, you never truly know the level of co-dependency, competing priorities, and responsibilities until you step into the role and live it out yourself.
Often times the grass is not greener on the other side; it’s just a different type of grass.
The All-or-Nothing Myth
“Why try if I can’t be the top person?”
If you can’t win then what’s the point of playing the game? Leadership is not an all-in or all-out philosophy. The “top” leader shouldn’t be any more important than a leader at any other level.
Kindred at Home is the largest in-home and hospice care company in the U.S. and they know where their most valuable leaders are; the ones that lead the teams in the field that take direct care of their patients. Ask any executive and they will all say that the branch director is more important than them. Even though the branch director may not be the top leader in the organization, they have a profound impact on the level of care for their patients at the local level.
You don’t need to be at the top to make a difference. In keeping with the Kindred at Home example, I’ve seen numerous stories of people having a literally life-changing impact on others without carrying a formal leadership title.
Make the most out of your influence right where you are.
Leadership is a choice that you make. No titles, letters after your name or position, will ensure that people will follow you. Make the choice to lead yourself, your family, and your team well no matter your life or career stage.
Make a better tomorrow.