When I stepped into my first leadership role in my late twenties, I had clear thoughts about what it means to be a good leader. Some more years and some more painful realizations later, I needed to admit that those’ clear thoughts’ were only preconceptions. Below I reveal the four most influencing misbeliefs that I could spotlight and debunk during my leadership journey.
1. Leaders know everything
I mistakenly believed that everyone would rely on me to answer any issue just because I was managing a team. However and in reality, it is on the contrary! During my journey, I learned that the best leaders clearly understand their limitations and almost consciously decide NOT to know everything!
They instead search for passionate people in various areas of expertise and bring them together, listen more than they speak, and they listen intending to understand, not the goal to answer! Leaders can admit their mistakes and empower others to execute vision through their knowledge and initiative versus a dictate from above. Genuinely exceptional leaders enable others to become leaders. Their higher goal is to work themselves out of the job so that if they are not around, the organization functions just as successfully as when they are.
So nobody has all of the answers, and this is something that a leader knows the best! 😊
2. Women or Men are the better leaders?
Back in time, it was no question in my head that I (as a woman) should work harder to’ catch up’ in leadership to get closer to the true leader, who is apparently a ‘He’ in my head… Since then, I have read much research about leadership and gender and whether a male versus female leader will perform better in leadership. And yes, men and women may indeed take slightly different approaches and value other traits as leaders. Still, there is absolutely no evidence to prove that one gender is more effective at leading than another!
Research has also found that the so-called ‘Transformative’ leaders come primarily from women because they also carry more of the characteristics that make it possible (such as motivational ability, collaboration, creativity, charisma, problem-solving, etc.). Female leadership marks work better in industries that deal with people and services while emphasizing the effectiveness of male leaders in hierarchical, high-performance organizations (military, police, government, banking, etc.).
And when they asked Fortune 500 companies, they found that organizations with more women leaders were more productive than companies with fewer women leaders in management.
From all of this, you may already have the idea that the effort to proclaim a ‘winner’ between female and male leaders is largely unnecessary, as it will be a dead end.
At the same time, the above is a good indication that a company and the people need both male and female leaders because they inherently work with different skills that can be well adapted to the situation and complement each other. The highest-performing companies often find that the proportion of female executives working in management is significantly higher than in other companies operating in similar fields.
In conclusion, here are some of the qualities that several studies, research, and articles have unanimously identified as a ‘good leadership trait’. And now I leave it up to you to decide whether these qualities are more characteristic of male or female leaders:
12 Points of a Good Leader:
- Communicates well
- Trustworthy and honest
- Listen to others, humane, caring
- Experienced and highly skilled
- Positive attitude, flexible
- Can motivate
- It strives for integrity with itself and its environment
- Brave (innovative, takes your thoughts, opinions, risks…)
- Strives for order and system (quorum, clairvoyance)
- It earns respect, is authentic and authentic
- Positively affirming, passionate
3. Leaders shouldn’t be emotional and express vulnerability
My massive misconception was that leaders couldn’t show weaknesses, alias vulnerability. Somehow I thought that taking responsibility for a shortcoming, changing direction, going for and using advice from others, admitting a mistake is a sign of weakness. Today I know that it is a truly unhealthy belief to have. When I held myself to such unrealistic standards, it created pressure, which turned into stress and what felt like a failure when I couldn’t meet my own expectations.
Effective leadership means owning up to mistakes so that we can learn from them! Good leaders want to hear positive and constructive feedback from team members to continue learning and evolving as leaders!
I finally recognized that we’re all human, and it is more important than having all of the answers. We, as leaders, should listen and support our employees as best as possible.
4. Leaders are just born
Believe it or not, I did believe for a while that there was a genetic factor that enables someone to become a leader! I thought that leaders are born with specific characteristics that biologically allow them to move into leadership roles. I know, it sounds a bit childish 😊 During the years, I recognized that leadership is a skill set that can be learned and developed over time. So it’s not a genetic disposition. Like any other behavior, leadership can be learned if you’re willing to focus your time and energy on that leadership development.
By today I instead argue the complete opposite: Leaders are made, not (only) born!
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Ágnes Vad, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Ágnes Vad is a certified human potential and business coach with 18 years in marketing and 10+ years in cross-cultural leadership roles. Ágnes started her professional career in the multinational world in the marketing domain and built her thorough business acumen in parallel via the international leadership roles she was promoted to. She has been showing passion for working and leading people starting from the beginning of her career. She is a proud winner of the Leadership and Marketing Awards at her company. After 18 years she decided to follow her passion and became a coach entrepreneur in 2019. In the last 2.5 years, she became experienced and recognized professional in the coaching domain and has cc. 500 hours of coaching experience. She works with individuals and also with teams as a coach. She focuses on activating and maximizing human and leadership potential, emotional intelligence (EQ), mindfulness, and resilience.