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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The professional gator: 5 common myths about what makes a good leader

Leaders, like most things in life, come in all shapes and sizes.

Some stand tall behind podiums in front of cheering crowds; some slave tirelessly at desks; others sit in tiny offices over a mountain of paperwork. You may even be considered a leader, too!

For a long time I never thought I was a “natural leader.” Growing up, my grade school teachers told my parents I lacked the proper skills or whatever. Now that I’m in college, though, I’ve come to realize something: there is no such thing!

In fact, there are plenty of misconceptions circling around out there that need to be debunked fair and square, so here are five quick ones to get you started.

Myth No. 1: You have to be an extrovert to be a leader.

The reality:Being an extrovert or introvert has nothing to do with being shy or being outgoing as most people tend to assume. In fact those terms just refer to how a person recharges. Extroverts recharge through social interactions, whereas introverts recharge by being alone. According to Dr. Bernice Ledbetter, no studies have concluded that being one or the other has anything to do with being a better leader.

Myth No. 2: You have to have ambition to be a leader.

The reality: This actually depends on what an individual is ambitious about. If a person is more driven by money or power, they may have less regard for treating people well, which is a key part of being a leader.

Myth No. 3: Great leaders are born, not made.

The reality: Being a great leader is something you have to work toward; genetics have no say whatsoever. Want to be a better leader? You have to practice and gain experience. According to Warren G. Bennis, regarded as a pioneer of leadership studies, “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.”

Myth No. 4: Great leaders keep their emotions in check.

The reality: True leaders are not stone walls. Instead they show compassion, empathy and happiness. One can’t forget that managers and bosses are human, too, and acting like one does not show weakness.

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Myth No. 5: Men make better leaders.

The reality: Kick any misogynists to the curb that think women aren’t good leaders, and remind them that companies like General Motors, HP, IBM and PepsiCo Inc. (plus hundreds more) are all currently headed by women CEOs. This goes back to genetics not playing a role in what makes a good leader.

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