Connect with us

Change Your Mindset

Debunking 21 of the Most Common Leadership Myths

It has been proved beyond doubt that leaders are made rather than born



Image Credit: Unsplash

Do you think leaders should be tall and handsome?  Do you opine leaders must know everything? Do you think leaders must have a magic wand? Do you think women cannot make good leaders? Do you think leaders should be intelligent with a strong academic background?

Then you need to reconsider your views on leaders and leadership.  There are several myths associated with leaders and leadership.  And there are several definitions of leader and leadership.  If you hit Google you get a huge number of hits on leaders and leadership, and many definitions of leadership.  Hence, before we define leader and leadership, it is essential to debunk several myths about leaders and leadership.  

Myth # 1: Leaders are born, not made.

Truth: Several theories are highlighting various aspects of leadership such as skills theory, behavioral theory, great man theory, trait theory, etc., Previously people believed that either people had leadership qualities, or not.  

However, through research, it has been proved beyond doubt that leaders are made rather than born.  Just because the father or mother is a leader the son or daughter cannot be a natural leader.  In addition, leadership is a behavior that can be learned through training and practice.

Myth # 2: Leaders must be tall.

Truth: People often think that leaders must be tall with great height so that they will be able to influence others. No doubt, having a great height is an asset but some great leaders were short in height but achieved greatness.  For instance, Alexander was short in height but became great through his conquests more than 2,300 years ago.  

Although Adolf Hitler failed during the Second World War, he was a leader who was short in height.  Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi was also short in height but he achieved India’s independence through truth and non-violence. Hence, height is not the criterion to become a leader. 

Myth # 3: Leaders must be handsome. 

Truth: Leaders must walk their talk and set an example for others to follow.  They must have a vision, be able to influence others, build successful teams, motivate, and finally accomplish their goals and objectives.  Hence, there is no connection between their roles and physical appearance. For instance, Abraham Lincoln was not good-looking, but he proved to be one of the best presidents of America.  

Myth # 4:  Leaders must be highly intelligent.  

Truth: Numerous examples prove beyond doubt that leaders hail from an average academic background.  When we look at the leaders of Fortune 500 companies, it reveals that more than 50 percent of CEOs hail from an average academic background.  

However, having an academic qualification is an asset for a leader.  But every leader must not be academically intelligent. When we look at Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, they are all college dropouts.  Hence, we can emphatically conclude that most leaders have average intelligence. 

Myth # 5: Leaders must be extroverts. 

Truth: Some leaders are introverts yet proved their leadership qualities. Steve Jobs of Apple Computers was an introvert who proved as an innovation legend during his lifetime. It is the nature of people either to be introverts or extroverts, and it has nothing to do with leadership. 

Myth # 6: Leaders must be veterans. 

Truth: Having experience and being older is an asset to leaders as they make fewer mistakes, and benefit from their vast experience and age.  At times, it proves to be costly for these veterans as they have preconceived ideas with a regimented mindset.  

The young have fire in their bellies and are ready to experiment and explore their ideas, and mostly they achieve and succeed in their lives. Several leaders proved their leadership potential at a relatively young age. For instance, Alexander, the Great achieved greatness by the age of 34 itself and led people of all age groups despite being young. 

Various business leaders such as Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates proved as business leaders at a young age itself. And Barack Obama has become the president of America at the relatively young age of 47 and also, John F. Kennedy became President at a young age. These young leaders broke the age-old myth by leading the veterans.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born ― that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” ―Warren G. Bennis 

Myth # 7: Leaders must be charismatic.

Truth: Charisma is an exclusive charm and magnetism some people possess.  It is the ability to dress well, speak well, present with positive body language, and radiate constant energy and enthusiasm. If leaders possess charisma it is an asset, but not possessing it, is not a liability. Some leaders proved their best without any charisma. Succinctly, character counts, not charisma. 

Myth # 8: Leaders must be orators.  

Truth: It is a fact that good leaders are great orators, but it is not necessary that leaders must be orators.  For instance, Alex Ferguson is a great leader if you consider his results with Manchester United, but he was not a great orator.  Some leaders are not great orators, but they still succeeded as leaders. Leadership is a blend of various traits, skills, and abilities.  

While some possess some qualities, others possess some other qualities.  You must consider leadership holistically with a blend and balance of various aspects. 

Myth # 9: Leaders must have titles and positions.  

Truth: The positions and titles are temporary.  What is important is the individual capacity to lead from the front, not the titles or positions.  If leadership is based on positions, why do we see a few leaders falling apart from their positions?  Leadership is performance-driven, not position, or role-driven.

According to social psychologists, John French and Bertram Raven, power is divided into five forms—legitimate, coercive, reward, expert, and referent power. One who holds his/her power just because of his/her legal standing vested in him/her by an organization is known as legitimate power.  Such people hold power as long as they hold their legitimate positions.

Coercive power is a negative power such as threats, or punishments that usually prevail in autocratic societies, and such people are hardly respected.  Reward power is the ability to reward others and people enjoy their positions as long as they reward others.  

Expert power is the position where people have expertise in some areas.  Precisely, they are domain experts. Finally, referent power is the power where people enjoy status not bestowed by law, or position but because people admire such leaders.  

Leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela enjoyed referent power as people revered and supported them.  Most of the leaders survive on their expert power and fade away in history.  

However, those leaders who passionately deliver goods through their expertise enjoy referent power. Hence, titles and positions don’t make real leaders, but their referent power makes them true leaders. 

Myth # 10: Leaders are self-appointed. 

Truth: You cannot claim yourself to be a leader.  It is the people who must accept and consider you a leader.  It gives you strength as a leader and demonstrates your humility. If you appoint yourself as a leader and blow your own trumpet, you will be treated as a chatterbox and a person who craves hype.  

Myth # 11: Leaders have all solutions for problems.

Truth: Leaders are the people who are not ready with solutions but the people who take responsibility and search for solutions. 

If followers emphasize people and problems, the leaders emphasize prospects. If followers brood on individuals and issues, the leaders invent ideas for resolving various challenges. Most of the time leaders take initiative and discuss with others, create multiple solutions, and then shortlist the best one for implementation. 

Myth # 12: Leadership is observed only in the workplace. 

Truth: As a leader, you are always under the scanner. Don’t assume that your leadership is observed only during working hours, and in the workplace.  People keep an eye on you outside the workplace to observe and learn from you.  Hence, leaders must be careful about, the way they dress, and the way they walk and talk.  

Myth # 13:  Leaders must have a long tenure. 

Truth: Your length and duration of survival as a leader are not the criteria.  In contrast, how well you lead and leave a mark for others to follow is the criterion for leadership.  For instance, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before the completion of the presidential term. 

However, the impact he made before his presidential tenure is amazing in the history of America.  He has been rated as one of the most influential Presidents of America who survived the challenges of the division of America between the north and the south.  He successfully demonstrated his leadership skills and worked for the unity of America apart from ensuring the abolition of slavery in America.  

When you look at Alexander the Great, he too had a short tenure and died young much before 34 years.  Hence, the quality of presence is more important than the quantity of presence. 

Myth # 14:  Leaders should not have any weaknesses. 

Truth:  Every leader is a human being first.  Every human being has both strengths and weaknesses.  The only greatness with leaders is that they realize their weaknesses and convert them into strengths, and threats into opportunities. Whenever they make mistakes due to their weaknesses they realize, correct, and move forward aggressively without being overly worried about them.  

Myth # 15:  Leaders are masters, not servants. 

Truth:  Robert Greenleaf propounded servant leadership where leadership is serving others with a great heart. Leaders demonstrate and show to others while leading.  Leadership is not in sitting in cushion chairs and making decisions.  Leadership is walking the talk and setting an example for others to emulate and excel. Above all, leadership is to serve others by remaining as a servant with humility. 

Myth # 16:  Leaders grow on trees. 

Truth: Leaders grow from the grass-root level, not the other way round.  It is a bottom-to-top approach rather than a top-to-bottom approach. The kind of experience and exposure churns real leaders at the ground level to come to the fore. It distinguishes cheese from chalk. Indeed, the cream always comes to the top.  Hence, true leaders rise from ranks.   

Myth # 17:  Leadership is a solo act. 

Truth:  Leadership is teamwork.  No individual can take credit for the success of the entire team. Besides, there are several myths such as leaders are born in a particular community, culture, country, race, religion, and language. The truth is that they are born everywhere.  Some complain about destiny for not being born in majority communities. 

The leaders can also emerge from minority communities leading the majority. Barack Obama is an amazing example for all of us who were born black, with a Muslim father and Christian mother with origins outside America but led America and the world from the front. 

Myth # 18: Women cannot excel as leaders. 

Truth: Gender has nothing to do with leadership. It is a fact that women have more challenges than men to prove themselves as leaders as some organizations don’t encourage women to be on par with men although legally women are on par with men.  

Globally very few women did great as leaders leaving exceptions like Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frances Hesselbein, and Margaret Thatcher. Indra Nooyi, the former Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo is a corporate woman leader who broke the glass ceiling and became a role model for all women. Being born as a woman is not a liability. 

It all depends on how you lead and prove yourself. Women have several advantages over men as they are emotionally more intelligent, better at multitasking, assertive, and have soft skills. Hence, they can prove themselves as successful leaders along with men.

Myth # 19:  Everybody cannot become a leader.  

Truth: Leadership is not the privilege of a few people. The proven fact is that anybody and everybody can excel as a leader if there is a passion to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book titled, Leaders: The strategies for taking charge identified five great leadership myths leadership is a rare skill, leaders are born, not made, leaders are charismatic, leaders exist only at the top of an organization, and the leader controls, directs and manipulates. Hence, debunk all these myths to have the right approach towards leadership. 

Myth # 20: Once a leader is forever a leader.

Truth: Leadership changes from time to time because what worked for some time may not work again due to rapid changes in technology. Hence, leaders must reinvent with changing times. Else, they will soon be forgotten leading to leadership decay. At times, circumstances might favor a person to become a leader, but the same leader fails in different circumstances.  

Jack Welch rightly remarked, “The Jack Welch of the future cannot be like me. I spent my entire career in the United States. The next head of General Electric will be somebody who spent time in Bombay, Hong Kong, in Buenos Aires. 

We have to send our best and brightest overseas and made sure they have the training that will allow them to be the global leaders who will make GE flourish in the future.” To evolve and excel as successful leaders, leaders must learn and grow continuously and they must take feedback constantly. 

Myth # 21: Leadership can’t be taught. 

Truth: Leadership is a skill, not a talent.  Had it been a talent it would have been tough to teach leadership.  But leadership is a skill, and it can be taught.  There is a difference between talents and skills. Talents are inborn where people bring in through heredity.  

In contrast, skills can be cultivated through training, teaching, observation, reading, experience, and practice. Daniel Goleman said that leadership depends more on emotional intelligence and less on an intelligence quotient.  And emotional intelligence can be taught.  Hence, leadership can be taught.

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with forty years of experience and the author of fifty books including the award-winning ‘See the Light in You’ URL: He is a C-Suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Change Your Mindset

The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change



how to be more persuasive

Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

Continue Reading

Personal Development

5 Key Reasons Why Perfectionist’s Procrastinate



Procrastination Perfectionist Patterns

Hey there! I’m Joel Brown, a procrastination mindset specialist. In my world, it’s all about guiding my students through repatterning exercises to break free from the shackles that prevent them from scaling new heights in life.

Now, you might hear ‘perfectionist’ and think, “Ah, they’re destined for success!” But here’s the real deal: perfectionism is far from a superpower. It’s a sneaky villain in disguise, sapping emotional and physical strength, disrupting sleep, and fueling an endless cycle of rumination—all in the pursuit of getting everything ‘just right.’ This relentless chase is what we call the ‘Obsessive Idealist‘ procrastination type.

If you don’t know which out of. the 6 procrastination types you are then you can take this quick 3 minute procrastination type quiz on my Mindstrong Academy website.

Through my fourteen years of coaching, I’ve identified six procrastination types, but my journey started with a personal revelation—I am an Obsessive Idealist. I’ve been there, constantly toggling between creation and procrastination.

And today, I invite you to explore this path with me. If you’re nodding along, thinking, “That sounds like me; I’m a perfectionist too,” then stick around.

I’m about to shed some light on why you might be stuck in this cycle.


Here’s a perfectionist procrastination type video here of what I’m breaking down in this article for you:

The Obsessive Idealist: Unpacking the Perfectionist’s Paradox

First things first, make sure to take the procrastination quiz: to see where you stand. Now, let’s dive into the world of the Obsessive Idealist. Often labeled as high achievers or perfectionists, the core of their procrastination lies in the mind’s protective pause. It’s a shield against perceived threats, pitfalls of perfectionism, and the constant battle between the now and the future in our minds.

Here’s the paradox: what seems like a strength for high achievers can become a crippling hindrance. Obsessive Idealists are in a constant struggle to avoid failure, aiming for 100% perfection. But let’s face the truth—no one is perfect. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, athlete, or any individual striving for excellence, embracing imperfections and learning from failures are crucial steps.


The Traps of Being an Obsessive Idealist Procrastination Type

Analysis Paralysis: Overthinking every detail to the point of inaction is a common pitfall. It’s like trying to get everything perfect, but in reality, it backfires, stalling your progress.

The Unrealistic Standards Syndrome: Setting impossibly high goals is like chasing a mirage. It’s not just about being competitive; it can lead to unfair self-criticism and unrealistic expectations of others.

The Time Trap: Believing there’s never enough time to complete a task perfectly leads to constant postponement. This selective focus on strengths, while avoiding areas of improvement, limits your true potential.

Avoidance of Criticism: Dodging feedback hinders growth. It’s essential to learn to accept constructive criticism without internalizing it as a reinforcement of the “I’m not good enough” narrative.

The All-or-Nothing Lie: Believing that you must operate at full throttle or not at all is a dangerous misconception. Embracing the middle ground, like delegating tasks and seeking mentorship, is key to balanced success.

Embracing Imperfection: The Path to True Progress


In the MindStrong Academy, where I teach conquering procrastination, we focus on managing these patterns effectively. Currently, we’re offering a 7-day free trial, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to transform your mindset: The Academy is more than just a course; it’s a community where you’ll find support, accountability, and tailored resources like a 31-day planner and visualization audios to realign your focus.


In conclusion, recognizing and managing your tendencies as an Obsessive Idealist is crucial. By addressing the deep-rooted “I’m not good enough” narrative and embracing imperfection, you can shift from a state of constant stress to one of harmonized power.

Remember, movement doesn’t always equate to progress. It’s about finding balance, embracing downtime, and allowing yourself the space to grow and learn.

I encourage you to take the quiz, join the MindStrong Academy, and start your journey towards a more balanced, successful life.

Let’s break free from the chains of perfectionism together!


Continue Reading

Change Your Mindset

Unlocking Success: Subconscious Reprogramming, Mindset, and Transformative Strategies for Improved Wellbeing and Business Performance



brittany victoria

What if I told you that the negative thoughts or self-limiting beliefs that you may have, are not actually yours?

In this article, I will discuss subconscious programming and how it can be reprogrammed in a way that allows you to reach your greatest potential. I will also provide tips on how you can integrate this information as a leader within the workplace.

The subconscious mind is shaped before we begin forming our own conscious thoughts, and these conscious thoughts are influenced by the subconscious mind. This means that even the thoughts that you’re consciously having, are merely an extension of that pre-existing conditioning. 

When something becomes deeply ingrained within your mind through repetition, and there are other supporting thoughts that reinforce it, you will identify this information as your truth. These repeated thoughts become beliefs, and your actions will align to support and validate these beliefs.

The Importance of Observing Your Thoughts

If you continuously tell yourself that you aren’t capable or good enough, how likely are you to put in the effort to challenge this narrative? If you’ve always been a procrastinator and tell yourself that you always will be, you’re going to continue procrastinating. If you run into an obstacle and don’t believe you can overcome it, you’re not going to look for solutions or try your best to resolve it.

It’s extremely important for you to become an observer of your thoughts and understand the impacts of how those thoughts can impact your life, relationships, and overall outlook on life.

Here are some questions to help guide you:

– What are your recurring negative thoughts, and how are they impacting your performance and relationships? 

– How have these thoughts held you back from achieving your goals and living the life that you’ve always dreamed of? 

– What have these thoughts already cost you and what else will they cost you if they don’t change?

Societal conditioning, influenced by a lower level of collective consciousness, has made the experience of debilitating thoughts highly prevalent. It’s not your fault that you have them, but it is your responsibility to change them and choose better ones.

The Subconscious Must Be Reprogrammed 

Reprogramming the subconscious involves positive affirmations, visualization, and consistent repetition to replace negative beliefs with positive ones. You have to become aware of the thoughts that make you feel bad and do not serve your best interest.

What are the growth-oriented thoughts that would you rather have instead? Any time that a debilitating thought crosses your mind, always correct it with new thought that uplifts, encourages and empowers you. Be consistent, be patient and understand that your logical mind will not make this process easy for you at first.

Being Delusional vs. Consciously Creating a Better Reality for Yourself 

By definition, the term delusional means “holding false beliefs or judgments about external reality that are held despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary”. When you have held onto debilitating beliefs for so long and your previous actions have served as evidence to confirm their truth, it is inevitable that your logical mind will deem your new thoughts as delusional. This is where embracing change tends to become most challenging, as it involves confronting this resistance with unwavering commitment. 


What you have to understand is that your former beliefs and former actions do not dictate your future, unless they remain the same. As the old beliefs become obsolete and new beliefs take their place, there will also be new aligned actions that produce different results, and this will serve as evidence to support your new truth. That being said, the most delusional thing that anyone can do is elect to keep an unfavorable mindset that was programmed for them by external factors and willingly relinquish their own personal power as a result of it.

Success is Fundamentally Rooted in the Mindset

How we show up for ourselves and others, communicate with employees, and perform in business are deeply connected to our mindset and everything that has shaped it. Let’s delve into these interconnected aspects and explore five transformative tips that will catalyze positive change in the workplace. 


A growth-oriented mindset encourages resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace challenges. On the other hand, a fixed mindset hinders progress and limits potential.

Tip 1: Embrace a Growth Mindset

  • Establish the belief that abilities can be developed.
  • View challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude toward continuous growth and development.

Unpacking Trauma and Navigating the Impact

Unresolved trauma can cast a long shadow over our personal and professional lives. It shapes our reactions, influences decision-making, and impacts our interactions with others. Acknowledging and addressing trauma is essential for creating a healthier, more productive work environment.


Tip 2: Prioritize Trauma-Informed Leadership

  • Cultivate empathy and understanding for individual experiences.
  • Provide a safe space for open communication about trauma.
  • Implement support systems and resources for employees dealing with trauma.


Elevate Relationships and Sales Performance

To enhance relationships, communication, and sales performance, a holistic approach that intertwines mindset and trauma-informed practices is key.


Tip 3: Implement Empathy-Driven Communication

  • Train teams in active listening and empathetic communication.
  • Create an environment where open dialogue is encouraged.
  • Recognize and validate diverse perspectives, creating a culture of inclusivity.

Tip 4: Invest in Professional Development

  • Offer continuous learning opportunities for employees.
  • Develop leadership skills to enhance communication and relationship-building.
  • Prioritize sales training programs that align with evolving market dynamics.

Tip 5: Maintain a Positive Work Culture

  • Create a workplace where employees feel valued and appreciated.
  • Implement recognition programs to celebrate achievements.
  • Encourage a balance between professional and personal well-being.

By embracing a growth mindset, acknowledging and addressing trauma, and implementing empathetic, integrated strategies, individuals and organizations can create a transformative ripple effect. In this interconnected web of personal and professional growth, how we show up truly matters, influencing the outcomes we achieve and the impact we leave on those around us.


Enjoy the Journey 

As you embark on the empowering journey of subconscious reprogramming, remember that change takes time, and self-compassion is your greatest ally. Surround yourself with positive influences, whether it be supportive friends, inspirational books, or mindfulness practices. Seek guidance from mentors who have walked a similar path and found success in reshaping their mindset. Embrace the discomfort that may arise during this process, for it signifies the shedding of old layers to make way for the new. Reflect on your progress regularly, celebrating even the smallest victories, and be patient with yourself as you navigate the intricacies of transformation. 

In the spirit of rewriting your narrative, I encourage you to take the first step today. Commit to a daily practice of positive affirmations, visualize your desired reality, and consistently challenge self-limiting beliefs. If you would like support along the way, consider joining like-minded communities, Facebook groups, and curate your social media to reflect these new changes you want to embody.

Remember, thoughts become actions, and actions reinforce beliefs. It’s never too late to embark on an empowering journey to reprogram your mind, and achieve the life you have always dreamed of!

For more tips and strategies on how to improve your mindset, follow me at @bigdivineenergy.

Continue Reading

Change Your Mindset

How to Let Go of Unconscious Patterns That No Longer Serve You

Spending more and more time going inward will free you to move forward.



Image Credit: Midjourney

I was chatting with a friend of mine who was recently laid off. The experience has been overwhelming for him in a myriad of ways, including feeling inadequate and not good enough to get another job. (more…)

Continue Reading