Most people want to succeed. Many want to be leaders; they want to be looked up to, respected, and attach prestige to their identity.
These are the wrong reasons to be a leader. And people who want to be a leader for the wrong reasons usually go about it the wrong way. Naturally, there are countless aphorisms and platitudes — mostly myths — to entertain those who would rather sit and think about how great they will become, rather than putting in the work. Some of the following might sound familiar.
Myth #1: Leaders Work Smarter and Not Harder
This is perhaps one of the most widespread myths about leadership and success in general. While it isn’t completely fantastical, it implies that if you want to succeed, you should put a ton of energy into finding the most efficient methods to do things.
And many people do. While scouring the bookstore and internet for the “secrets to success” that no one else is employing, they spend so much energy stressing about methods to make their work more efficient that they don’t have any left over to do the actual work.
You want to be focused. But beyond a certain level, efficiency isn’t going to open any shortcuts for you. At the end of the day, you have to work hard and smart.
Myth #2: Leaders Are Born and Not Made
Some people have unusual amounts of confidence or talent and are more naturally inclined to take leadership roles. But these people are not always good leaders, even though they remain in their positions.
It’s important to realize that general leadership skills can be learned, and experience is invaluable. Also, people skills aren’t the only important leadership skills. Innovation, focus, determination, and stress tolerance will all contribute to effective leadership.
Myth #3: Leaders Are Visible
Nope. Even the word “leader” evokes an image of a charismatic man in a suit standing behind a podium at a press conference. On the contrary, many leaders are introverted and operate behind the scenes while still being extremely good at what they do.
Myth #4: Leaders Are Defined By Their Position
This isn’t true. Some people who work their way up the ladder end up in what seem to be leadership roles, but they really spend more time managing things than leading people forward. That’s not to discount managers or say that managers can’t be leaders, but the two are very different.