President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do what you want done because he wants to do it.” While that statement has an element of truth, I believe it is very misleading. The core of leadership is the ability to influence others, not manipulate others. It is a critical skill in the corporate world, the private sector, and in everyday life.

An effective leader needs to possess multiple skills, which many of us may think cannot be developed by the average person. We are often guilty of embracing certain misconceptions about leadership. Recognizing these misconceptions gives us a better understanding of leadership and helps each of us develop our ability to influence others.

Here are a few common misconceptions about leadership:

1. Leaders have all the answers.

Leaders aren’t afraid to admit they don’t have the answer. The best leaders know their limits and surround themselves with people that fill those gaps.

2. Leaders don’t work, they delegate.

Leaders learn how to give the right work with the right resources to the right people. The best leaders inspire and build teams that make good ideas better.

3. Leaders have big personalities.

Leaders come in all styles, personality types, and levels of charisma. The best leaders use their character and actions to leverage influence.

4. Leadership is about power and position.

Leaders are not defined by power or position but by their ability to empower others. The best leaders cultivate and nurture healthy relationships.

5. Leaders are born not made.

Leaders are most often formed through challenges and circumstances. The best leaders have a desire to grow and develop their capacity for influence.

6. Men are better leaders than women.

Leaders are not bound by age, education, or gender. The best leaders are transformational leaders who inspire, empower, and push others to be their best. Moms are the best example of transformational leaders.

7. Leaders define leadership.

Leaders cannot always identify why people follow. The best leaders know their leadership is defined through the stories of those who follow them.

Leadership is a minefield of challenges and misconceptions. Labeling misconceptions gives us a different perspective. Facing challenges helps us see what is possible. Perspective and possibility allow us to leverage our influence and develop the leadership potential inside each of us.

If you want to discover skills on leading well and influencing others, we invite you to join us August 9 and 10, at the Global Leadership Summit simulcast at TrueNorth Church. It is without a doubt the greatest leadership conference you will ever attended. More information and registration can be found on our Events page.