Three leadership myths to avoid
Bradley was failing, and failing badly.
Not only did the members of his team avoid him in the lunchroom and never stop by to say “good morning,” they had begun taping a target to his back every day and everyone had signed up for archery lessons. Bradley’s leadership style just wasn’t working.
Unfortunately, Bradley’s core problem was that he suffered from several leadership myths he’d picked up from pop culture. Like many of us, he didn’t have any formal training in leadership so his beliefs came mostly from watching movies. Leadership to Bradley was square-jawed men taking on insurmountable odds, rallying the troops with award-winning speeches, and humbly waiting for passionate kisses from pretty co-stars. Bradley thought he was prepared to be a great leader because though he didn’t have a square jaw and no one had tried to kiss him in years, he had been practicing his motivational speeches in the mirror. He had worked up his volume to “passing car with the bass too loud” level, and he could spew out all of the latest leadership buzzwords without spitting too much. But somehow it just wasn’t working.
What Bradley didn’t realize was that his ailments were completely fixable. They are pretty common today. Perhaps you’ve seen these leadership myths in your workplace:
1. The Myth of Omnipotence
This shouldn’t be confused with the “myth of ominipresence” (the power to be everywhere) or the “myth of omniplexes” (the power to watch all of the movies in a theater on only one ticket). The myth of omnipotence is 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 and a comment that means “You got it, boss. I’d walk through fire for you.”
It might happen in the movies but we know in reality a brand new leader doesn’t automatically get enthusiastic cooperation. He or she more often gets quiet acceptance, or perhaps begrudging compliance. Building cooperation and energetic participation requires time and careful nurturing in the real world. You might have to listen to a co-worker tell that unfunny story about their nephew’s brief stint with the Ice Capades. You might have to not get your way a few times in order to “collaborate” with your team. Real humans don’t give blind obedience because of someone’s position in an organizational chart. And leaders can’t alienate people, even if they do suspect some of them might be possessed by aliens.