The 10 Most Believed Lies About Leadership

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles

1.  Leadership is a Lonely Road – Leaders that find themselves on a lonely road are not on the road to successful leadership they are on the road to devastation and isolation. Leaders cannot sustain the pressures that come with leading alone. Though leaders many times will take the road less traveled, it doesn’t mean no one goes with them. Healthy leaders are surrounded by healthy relationships.

2. Leadership is Power – Power driven leaders drive people from their organizations. Leaders are only as powerful as the people who are following them. A leader that leads by power and position is a leader that often bankrupts people of their value and worth to an organization. The power driven leader makes it all about them, but genuine leadership is concerned about the success of others.

3. Leadership must have an Element of Mystery – Leaders who believe they must be somewhat mysterious in my opinion have serious issues. This idea emerged out of the idea that if people become too familiar with a leader that it will somehow nullify their ability to lead effectively. Leaders thrive when they create cultures of transparency, authenticity and accessibility. Mystery is not a quality of healthy leadership, it’s an indicator that a leader has totally missed what leadership is all about, serving others.

4. Leadership is for Everyone – Leadership is for anyone, but not for everyone. Leadership cannot happen without a contingency of followers. As John Maxwell says, “If you think you are a leader and no one is following you, you are just going for a walk.” I first ran across this leadership lie in the in the late 90’s. I believe the opposite is true. Everyone is called to follow, not everyone is gifted with the innate ability to lead others.  Can leadership be learned by anyone? You bet, but to become a leader you must be chosen to be one or make a choice to become one. Leadership is a gift that not everyone is graced with. If we are really honest there are many who have deemed themselves as leaders that are operating outside the graces of what God has called them to. Some people are passionate followers and are content with being led by great leaders choosing to follow rather than lead.

5. Leadership is without Struggle. A leader’s strength is developed in the struggle not without struggle. I like how Steven Snyder in his book, “Leadership and the Art of Struggle” exposes this lie:

“Fulfilling your potential as a leader requires that you think differently about leadership. You must recast your struggles as positive learning experiences and view them as necessary steps in your development as a leader. You must look at leadership through an entirely different lens.”

Viewing struggles as an opportunity instead of an obstacle is essential in leadership.

6. Leadership means Everyone Agrees. Great leaders will have to make difficult decisions.  It is rare for a leader to have 100% buy in 100% of the time. Leading by consensus kills progressive cultures.  Leaders are often presented opportunities that have an expiration date that require prompt decisions.  Having to consult boards, staffs and committees can be wise but it can also cause leaders to miss windows of opportunity and see doors close. There has to be process for leadership to make quick and timely decisions. Momentum is lost through long drawn out decision making processes.

7. Leadership is for the Elite. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Apostle Paul’s words debunks this leadership lie directly:

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30, The Message)

Life presents anyone an equal opportunity to become a leader. Not everyone will choose to be or should be a leader, but everyone can be.  It doesn’t matter your age, gender, race or where you were born. What matters is realizing what you were born for. Leading your life with purpose is not just for the privileged.

8. Leadership comes with Rights. The longer you are in leadership the more your responsibilities will increase while simultaneously your rights decrease. Responsibility always is increasing in the lives of maturing leaders. “Too much is given, much is required.” You will not be given much if you are not willing to give up your rights. Holding on to your rights will reduce your productivity and influence as a leader.

9. Leadership Means Having It All Together- The greatest trap for leaders is to think they can’t show any signs of personal weakness. Their marriage must be perfect, their kids must be perfect, their finances must be perfect and so on. Leadership means I’m being perfected in my pursuit of becoming a better leader. It means that I’m living my life up front as an example with both my weaknesses and strengths.

10.  Leadership is Everything  – If everything depends on leadership then nothing else matters. We’ve all heard the saying “everything rises and falls on leadership.” To say that this is 100% true all the time is to say that there are never any other determining factors of outcomes. Leadership is one of many things that determine the results of a successful organization. There are other factors such as timing, resources, location, and what I call the God factor. To say leadership is everything overlooks the importance that other determining factors play.

What leadership lies have you believed or have I not included? What do you think should or shouldn’t be on my list? If you like my content please subscribe to my blog and LIKE my Facebook page! Thanks for your support!



  1. says

    Yep. I would say Number #1 is the highlight. I always heard that it was lonely at the top. Well it is, if know one is following you! I like people and enjoy being around them. Who wants the Kingdom promotion that drives them into insolation!

  2. says

    #1 was a profound start to this great post! Leaders who live in isolation aren’t engaged in healthy community. Healthy community not only keeps us nourished, but it keeps us balanced, humble and growing in love. Leaders disconnected from community can easily begin to become all about themselves, their platform as well as visions of being carved into Mt. Rushmore.

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