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Here Are Four Things Leaders Are Not

There are so many articles out there about what leaders are. So, here is what leaders are not and why you should avoid these myths about leadership.


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Tavian jean-pierre

2 years ago | 5 min read

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash
Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in myths about what a leader is in today’s world of work. It has led to people being confused about what leadership is.

Leaders experience a lot of pressure every day, and much of it is due to myths. To not put too much blame at the top of our organisations, some of it is due to the individual misunderstanding leadership too.

What I have found is people get promoted to a “leader” for three reasons:

  1. Has got experience in bringing results into the company.
  2. They have a wide range of connections across the organisation.
  3. They have shown career progression over time.

Although all of these things are great and can indicate good leadership qualities, they are not leadership.

Whilst on this platform, I have been privileged to read many articles about what leadership is. I am happy to be amongst some of the top writers advocating for good leadership in our organisations.

However, very few articles discuss what leadership is not. And I think it is vital we make that distinction. Leadership is a lot more than many of the things people define it as today, and it is time to take a different outlook on it.

After all, if you are looking for the next leaders of the future, you do not want to make the mistake of hiring on the wrong qualities. So, here are the qualities and things most people look for to promote someone to lead.

They are all based on myths of leadership and tend to end up badly in the end.

Myth 1: Leaders Are a Trained Set of Skills

Although we can pull skills from a leader, leaders are not a trained set of skills. Companies believe they can put leadership into short courses to get what they want.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Leadership is more than a trained set of skills, and anyone who is a leader knows it. The idea that leadership can be taught in the classroom springs from the idea that everyone can be a leader.

Leadership is not for everyone. I would argue it is for the few. Not many are even slightly motivated to put the interest of others above themselves when it comes to the corporate world. Many are happy doing their day jobs without having to speak to anyone.

The authenticity and self-awareness needed to become a leader are unique. It requires a specific personality type and someone willing to sacrifice themselves for others.

These are not skills, but rather personality traits that depending on your life experience you will have or not. That is not to say that people can not learn the good qualities of leadership and apply them to their day job. But it is to say that the motivation to lead is innate to leaders, not to everyone.

Myth 2: Leaders Are There to Ensure Business Results

We can all agree that leaders are great at navigating teams to successful results. Thanks to their strong personality traits, they can drive individuals to a common goal.

Nevertheless, there is one thing we have to keep in mind. If leaders were not there, could companies still deliver on business results? The answer is yes. However, would we say leaders are necessary? The answer is also yes.

If you believe that those two statements are contradictory, you have fallen for myth number 2. Many things can drive business results that are not leaders. Machinery, regular employees, and AI, just to name a few. All of these things can do a great deal of the work for delivering on demands.

Leaders would be easy to find if they were people that drove business results. Unfortunately, many use this myth to look for and define what a leader should be.

Leaders are not there to drive business results. They are there to bring people together. They are an essential piece of the jigsaw to driving business results, but can you see how the definition can change the outlook drastically.

Myth 3: All Leaders Are at the Top

The problem with this myth is that it affects the view of all people in your organisation. People at the bottom of the company believe all leaders are at the top. And people at the top think they are leaders.

If you seek to lose talent in your organisations and a sense of purpose, this is the best way to define leadership.

We can all agree that people at the top of our organisations are not necessarily there because they show strong leadership qualities. They may be an expert in a field or was lucky enough to know someone.

Also, people at the bottom of organisations are not there because they are not showing leadership qualities. They may refuse a promotion for personal reasons, and some may enjoy their day job.

A good organisation has leaders at every level. For their ethos and vision to be carried through the whole company, leaders need to be present everywhere.

Myth 4: Leaders Should Know How to Teach Others

A new emerging myth is an idea that leaders are also great teachers. Before I critique it, I think it is trying to step in the right direction. Leaders who do have the ability to teach end up having more influence and can change cultures.

However, there are negative repercussions to holding this view. There are many people I know who are great at what they do but struggle to teach it. Teaching or coaching are unique skills within their own right.

Leaders have a lot to offer, and it would be great if they could teach these traits, but it should not dictate their leadership skills. Teachers and coaches are not leaders either. I know many people who could teach a leadership course well yet fail to show any of the traits of a leader.

Funny enough, it is quite rare to see good leaders who are also great coaches or teachers. That is because they do not tend to think about how to verbally communicate the character traits they are highlighting in their day jobs. Instead, they focus on actions rather than words.

Closing Thought

I would advise looking through the list of myths one more time and thinking about the ones you had. Maybe you are a leader yourself who had placed one at the core of your leadership.

You must understand what leaders do not do as well as what they do. Only then can you become the leader people need, but also, you want to be.

Reference: what-makes-a-leader.pdf (london.edu)



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Tavian jean-pierre

I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.


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