There are countless commonly held beliefs about leadership. So, we asked several leaders at Oak Street Funding to share a leadership myth they would like to bust. The number of varied responses busts the myth that leaders must fit a specific mold. There isn’t one type of person or leadership philosophy that is better than another. An executive team filled with a mix of leadership styles will be the most effective.
Myth 1: Leaders must make every decision.
Busted: “Leadership is about giving others the freedom to make their own decisions. I trust my team to make good decisions without my input. In fact, I often tell them it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission,” said Rick Dennen, founder and CEO.
Decision-making is an important function of those in leadership positions, but sometimes the best decision is to delegate. Having only a few people who can make decisions creates a bottleneck and slows a company’s innovation. Additionally, empowering others to make their own decisions builds employee investment in the success of the business.
Myth 2: Good leaders are extroverted.
Busted: “Leadership isn’t about being comfortable with public speaking or small talk. Sometimes the best leaders are those who quietly keep things running in the background,” said Jonica Drake, director of lead development.
Both introverts and extroverts can be good leaders, but the strengths of introverted leaders aren’t always as celebrated. Because introverted leaders are less interested in the spotlight, they are more willing to give their employees credit. An introverted leader tends to listen and think before taking action. This means they are less likely to act rashly in a moment of conflict. Additionally, an introverted leader may better relate to the introverted members on their team and can give them the space and understanding they need to shine.
Myth 3: Leaders have all the answers.
Busted: “A great leader is willing to say, ‘I don’t know’ when asked a question they don’t know the answer to. It is more important that a leader be willing to learn from others that are closer to the information needed to make an informed decision, especially given the speed at which customer expectations, competitors, and technology continue to evolve," explained Iliana Williams, chief revenue officer.
Great leaders understand that one person cannot possibly know all the answers to every question or situation, nor do they try to pretend they do. Instead, they build a team of experts and trust the knowledge of those on their team. Employees are more likely to trust a leader who is honest enough to admit when they don’t have all the answers while also giving employees room to find informed solutions to problems.
Myth 4: Leaders are stiff and uptight.
Busted: “The best leaders show up as their authentic selves. People are more willing to follow a leader who is true to themselves. Employees will pick up on a fake persona and this will damage credibility,” shared Alicia Chandler, president.
An uptight leader can be off-putting, and employees are less likely to share ideas if they feel like their leader is giving them a cold shoulder. Instead, a warm and encouraging leader can better engage employees and draw out new ideas from their team. Leaders can fight this myth by having an open-door policy and actively spending time with each employee. Community building is vital but cannot happen when leaders hold themselves distant from employees.
Myth 5: Good leaders are loud.
Busted: “In my opinion, there are two types of leaders, those that lead by example and those that lead with their voice. The best leaders lead by example,” noted Rick Dennen, founder and CEO.
The phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do” exists because actions speak louder than words. Leaders do not need to be the most vocal in the boardroom or the loudest during a conference call in order to be heard. While the loudest person in the meeting will get the most attention initially, it’s not always positive attention and if they do not follow through with their plans, their leadership will suffer. People will recognize the leaders that have a history of success and follow through when they make promises.
Interested in more leadership myths? Listen as Alicia Chandler shares more leadership myths she believes should be debunked:
Do you have a leadership myth you’d like to bust? Comment below and share it with us!
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Disclaimer: Please note, Oak Street Funding does not provide legal or tax advice. This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not a statement of fact or recommendation, does not constitute an offer for a loan, professional or legal or tax advice or legal opinion and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining valuation services or professional, legal or tax advice.