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TSS #005: Top 10 Leadership Myths

Jul 02, 2023

Read time 5 minutes

Today, I'm going to share the top 10 leadership myths vs. truths that I've learned. Read them and see if they resonate consciously or unconsciously. In other words, are you consciously aware of any of these myths in your leadership, or do you act like this without giving it any conscious thought?

For example, perhaps you know intellectually that staff shortages are out of your control, but when you see the human impact of this problem, somehow you feel like it's your fault, so you take it on personally. Or do you feel like you've done something wrong or let your team down when you don't have all the answers, even though you know cognitively that you cant possibly know everything?

Take the time to go over these and see which ones resonate. Once you do, share what you're learning and any questions that you have about these, and I'll do my best to answer the questions that come up for you.


Myth #1: Healthcare Leaders are Responsible for Staff Shortages: This myth comes from the idea that leaders are in control of staffing decisions.

Reality #1: While leaders do play a role in staffing, shortages often result from broader issues, like budget constraints, industry trends, or educational pipeline challenges, that are beyond a single leader's control.


Myth #2: Tough, Directive, No "Fluff" Leaders are the Best: This myth comes from the high-stakes, fast-paced nature of healthcare, where decision-making is critical and time-sensitive, leading to the belief that tough, directive leaders are the most efficient and effective.

Reality #2: Research increasingly shows that leaders who foster supportive, empathetic environments and focus on their teams' needs often achieve higher productivity, better morale, and lower turnover rates, suggesting that a balance of firmness and compassion is more effective.


Myth #3:Competent Clinicians=Good Leaders: The idea that competent clinicians automatically make good leaders likely stems from the belief that technical expertise in healthcare equals leadership capability, given the complex and technical nature of the work.

Reality #3: While clinical competence is crucial in healthcare, effective leadership requires additional skills such as communication, team building, strategic planning, and emotional intelligence. Therefore, excellent clinicians do not automatically make good leaders without these additional leadership skills. In fact, leadership skills are often a struggle in complex situations for people who excel clinically because the skill of leadership has not been mastered. This is often a rude awakening for clinical leaders.


Myth #4: The Leader Should Always Have the Answers: This myth probably originates from the belief that leaders, due to their position and experience, should always know what to do and be able to solve any problem that arises, which is especially relevant in healthcare, where decision-making can have significant consequences.

Reality#4: However, in reality, effective leadership involves fostering and facilitating an environment where collaboration and psychological safety are felt. No one, including a leader, can have all the answers. It's essential to develop the capacity for not knowing answers to problems that emerge daily. A felt safe space encourages everyone to work together, support one another, and contribute unique perspectives that create collaboration and breakthrough solutions.


Myth #5: Good Leaders Never Show Weakness: The myth that good leaders never show weakness likely comes from traditional views of leadership, especially in high-stress environments like healthcare, that equate leadership with unyielding strength and stoicism.

Reality #5: However, research and modern views of leadership show that vulnerability, including admitting when one doesn't have all the answers or has made a mistake, is actually a strength. It builds trust, encourages open communication, and fosters a culture of learning and growth within healthcare teams.


Myth #6: The More Hours You Work, the More You Get Done. This myth probably comes from the idea that the more hours healthcare professionals work, the more tasks they complete, assuming constant efficiency.

Reality #6: However, in reality, excessive work hours can lead to fatigue and burnout among healthcare professionals, which can decrease efficiency, increase the risk of errors, and negatively affect the quality of patient care. Balance and rest are essential for maintaining high-quality, safe care.


Myth #7: Emotions Have No Place in Leadership: This myth probably comes from the idea that leaders, especially in serious fields like healthcare, should always be calm and composed, making decisions based only on facts and not feelings.

Reality #7: However, in reality, good leaders in healthcare understand that emotions matter. They care about how their team feels because it affects how well the team works together and how they take care of patients.


Myth #8: Leadership and Management are the Same: This myth likely comes from the fact that people often use the terms "leadership" and "management" interchangeably, especially in sectors like healthcare, where both roles coexist and often overlap.

Reality #8: However, in reality, while both roles are crucial in healthcare, they involve different skills and tasks. Management is more about organizing and coordinating work, while leadership is about inspiring and guiding the team to achieve its goals. Leadership is about inspiring and influencing, while management is about organizing, planning, and problem-solving.


Myth #9: Leaders Must Always be in the Front: This myth likely stems from the idea that a leader, especially in healthcare, must always be leading the charge, setting the direction, and making the key decisions.

Reality #9: However, in reality, effective leaders often step back to allow their team members to take the lead in their areas of expertise, encouraging innovation, growth, and a shared sense of ownership and responsibility for patient care.


Myth #10: Great Leaders are Always Charismatic: This myth probably comes from the idea that successful leaders, including those in healthcare, are always outgoing and charming, and they use their personality to inspire and motivate their team.

Reality #10: While charisma can be helpful in leadership, it is not a requirement, and focusing too much on charisma can overlook other important leadership qualities like integrity, transparency, and empathy. Leaders come in all personality types. What's more important is their ability to communicate clearly, listen to their team, make fair decisions, and show respect and care for their team, regardless of their charisma.


Create a safe space for yourself and others first.


Reflective inquiry, awareness, and psychological safety will help you change long-standing habits, thinking, and ways of being that don't serve you.

Awareness is your first step. Once you're aware, then the next step is to practice the HOW of change—be Honest with yourself and others, Open up your mind and be willing to change, and if you need help, ask for it. This is your path forward.

Finally, Here are some actions you can take today:

Action Step #1: Read the list above. Check off the ones that you notice within your leadership practice.

Action Step #2: Write. Besides each one, write down whether this is working or not and what the consequence will be if you keep believing this myth for the next five years.

Action Step #3: Open up. Reach out to people you can trust and people who have what you want, and ask them for help.


Getting real with yourself and others moves you forward rapidly. Pretending, ignoring, or being in denial cements you to these myths and their repeating consequences over and over.


There is a better way. And you don't have to walk there alone.


That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed this resource!

Remember, if you have questions or comments, you can share them with me on LinkedIn through DM or by commenting and asking questions on my posts.


 Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

1. If you're still looking for traction with your team, I'd recommend starting with an affordable course:

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