3 leadership myths to avoid

Paul Nolan

Misperceptions about leadership turn up in everything from movies to televised sports. Erick Lauber, an applied psychologist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, consults with businesses on leadership and development. He warns new managers not to get caught up in these leadership myths:

The myth of omnipotence

Thinking you can tell anyone on the team to do practically anything and they’re going to just hop to it with a grin and a nod that means, “You got it, boss. I’d walk through fire for you.” Real humans don’t give blind obedience because of someone’s position in an organizational chart. Building cooperation and energetic participation requires time and careful nurturing.

The myth of omniscience

The belief that being the leader means knowing everything about everything. In some environments, it makes a brand new leader micromanage and attempt to oversee the smallest detail. In others, it makes the leader think they have to know the answer to every question. Why else would they be the leader?

The myth of omni-adrenaline

The belief that excellent execution from a team demands adrenaline surges, rousing speeches and lots of shouting. Shouting and adrenaline surges are only useful for invoking over-learned, mindless performance in the face of fear and actual physiological arousal. Today’s work environment demands creative problem-solving, flexible decision-making and complex reasoning.