“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~~ Mark Twain.

Dan Rockwell shares three things leaders believe about leadership that just ain’t so and that can really hurt us and make us ineffective in our roles and responsibilities.

Three lies that hurt and limit our effectiveness

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


What you believe about yourself, others, and events governs your attitudes and behaviors.

Limiting beliefs produce limited results.

#1. Leaders are tough.

Leaders do tough things. Successful leaders do tough things with openness, kindness, and empathy. Navigating tensions between doing tough things with a kind heart is one of the greatest accomplishments on the leader’s journey.

The soft side of toughness:

  1. Openness: Open leaders listen, seek input, and ask questions.
  2. Kindness: Kind leaders make it easier for others to achieve great results.
  3. Empathy – Empathetic leaders know how to take the perspective of others.

Openness, kindness, and empathy are expressions of curiosity.

#2. Leaders tell people what to do.

When the house is on fire, command and control is appropriate. But command and control as a daily practice limits potential and marginalizes the talent.

One of the toughest transitions of leadership is the transformation from giving solutions to asking questions. Early in your career you earned promotions by providing solutions. But the leader’s job is building relationships and creating environments where others provide solutions.

#3. Leaders get things done.

The thing leaders really do is help others get things done.

In many organizations you are both leader and doer. You don’t have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the performance of others. For example, you implement the new initiative and you lead the team to implement the new initiative. You have to execute and help others execute.

Shifting hats from doer to leader means facing the challenge of stepping back so others can step in.

3 tips:

  1. Ask open questions in meetings.
  2. Pat people on the back. Do this literally and frequently.
  3. Remember that the orchestra makes the music. The conductor doesn’t make a sound. (Thanks to Ben Zander for this insight.)

What prevailing beliefs limit leadership?

How might leaders overcome limiting beliefs?