Aug 15, 2022 Vas Nair

LEADERSHIP MYTHS Part 1: What are the lessons for leaders?

We’ve all heard this time and time again…‘What does it take to be a leader today?’. Looking at decades of research on the topic, a few factors remain constant – that being a successful leader is contingent upon the environmental factors and the stakeholders involved.

The other part to this equation belongs to the individual itself. There are many layers of complexity to this topic, and to keep it straightforward, let’s look at what’s relevant today.

I’d like to take a different spin on this topic by exploring Leadership Myths. What are they? Can we relate to them? How important are they in our complex world of work?

This has a few parts to it, and Part 1 covers the following 3 Leadership Myths:

1. Leaders are born

Becoming a leader is augmented through experience (good and bad) and by being purposeful in one’s actions to lead others. I for one, don’t believe that it’s a genetic blessing. For instance, think about leaders you’ve watched or followed. You know some who have excelled; and others who haven’t. Do the successful ones come from well to do families? Not in all cases. In fact, generations of leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Marie Curie and Nelson Mandela have come from impoverished families. I do however believe that they have innate qualities that guide them (such as instinct).

Successful leaders seize opportunities to make their passion come alive. They are masterful at leveraging their networks, while using their peripheral vision to learn from mistakes and steer the ship to stay ahead of the next challenge. They know their strengths (and weaknesses), pinpoint and sharpen their skills, and work tirelessly on a solid path towards their professional and personal goals.

2. They have all the answers

Nothing could be further from the truth! It’s not humanly possible to know everything about everything! The secret here is to know what one’s expertise and toolbox look like; and using them in a highly skilled fashion. The other part involves knowing where or who to go to when they don’t have the answers. They humbly learn from failures and look for guidance to solve problems and manage conflict.

Strong leaders have learned the art of navigating their team towards overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals. They rely on partnerships and use their influencing skills. They make it a point to create the pathway and to allow their teams to charter the next phase. This also calls for confidence in their team plus empowering them to get the job done; and it all comes with practice.

3. Leaders need to be in control

Frankly, I don’t see how successful leaders have the time to micromanage their teams. Yes, they’re required to know what’s going on, but this is better achieved by having the right talent to support them (especially in critical roles). Trusting and empowering their teams has incredible benefits. These include strengthening the skills of others as the wave of empowerment and confidence works its way throughout the organization. People emulate the leaders that they trust. An outcome of this when it’s done well is the evolution of an inclusive culture based on trust. This approach affords the leader time to lead the way versus managing work in the weeds.

Over time, the challenges thrown at leaders in organizations large, medium and small have taken different forms. For example, a global phenomenon today involves multi-generations in the labour force, which creates a new dynamic for leaders. Think about it – what motivates Baby Boomers is different from what Gen Z wants from their employer. The former is exploring post-retirement opportunities, such as part-time work; while the latter is expecting mentorship and constant feedback as they travel along their career path.

It’s fair to say that regardless of one’s approach to leading others, employees are inspired by leaders they believe in. Successful leaders know this and will persevere to achieve their vision by building partnerships and helping people overcome barriers and conflict. They understand that their path to success can’t be achieved alone.

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

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