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Tales of management: myths and fears about leadership

Due to the level of responsibility and critical decisions inherent in being at the front of an organization, leadership tends to be an art that is both revered and misunderstood in equal measure. The image we have of a leader is often distorted by myths that extol a series of unrealistic expectations and by fears that stalk both aspiring and experienced managers.

The idea that leading a company requires superhuman powers, endless energy, or an infallible personality has disheartened many people with great talent for company management and has perpetuated a culture in which mistakes and vulnerability are seen as weaknesses.

Challenging these narratives and getting to the bottom of the most deeply rooted beliefs gives us a more realistic, accessible perspective on what it really means to run an organization. An open door onto more inclusive, complete, and efficient leadership, which values authenticity over perfection and which is capable of inspiring and transforming in a world of constant change.

The 5 myths of a good leader

In a session with IESE alumni, Professor Santiago Álvarez de Mon demystified the erroneous perceptions and fears that most tend to condition the work of managers, and gave some recommendations to overcome these:

1. Strict control guarantees productivity

Many managers believe that rigorously controlling every aspect of the work of their employees is key to maintaining high levels of productivity. However, this view is counterproductive. Micromanagement can suffocate the creativity and motivation of your team and in the medium-term tends to lead to intense personal and professional fatigue among employees. That’s why trust and the ability to delegate responsibilities are crucial skills for any manager.

  • Foster an atmosphere in which your workers feel empowered to make their own decisions and contribute their own ideas.

2. The role gives me authority as a leader

This is one of the most persistent myths in management. We tend to think that the power of a leader emanates from their hierarchical position. However, true authority is based on your capacity to influence and on the trust you generate with your team. Your title may give you formal power, but real authority comes from respect and the credibility you build day by day.

  • Ask yourself: Do your employees follow you because they must or because they want to?

3. A good boss should never fire anyone

This myth can be one of the most damaging. Believing that you should never fire anyone so people see you as a good person can lead you to keep people on your team who don’t fit in, who don’t perform their work adequately or even who have attitudes that are harmful to the company. This not only jeopardizes the organization in terms of production, but also affects the morale of the rest of the team. Knowing when the time has come to fire someone is a crucial skill for a leader, although this must always be done with integrity and respect.

  • Be fair and make sure that the attitude and performance of each employee are in line with the company’s objectives and values.

4. No one can give me feedback

Some managers think that giving feedback is sufficient and that receiving it on the other hand can be a sign of weakness or lack of ability. However, the truth is that feedback is an essential two-way tool for the personal growth and professional development of any person within a company, including leaders.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for other people’s opinion. You’ll show your commitment to continuous learning and also reinforce your relationship with your workers, who’ll value your willingness to improve and listen to their opinions.

5. Success is only visible through financial results

It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring success exclusively in terms of financial profit and goals met. It’s not without reason that KPIs form part of the day-to-day routine of any department and often condition the bonuses managers receive at the end of the year.

That said, authentic leadership is about much more than just numbers. The positive impact you have on the lives of your employees, the organizational culture you build, and the ethics with which you lead are equally important. A successful leader is defined by their ability to inspire, motivate, and guide their team toward comprehensive, sustainable growth.

  • Think about it: What legacy are you leaving in your organization and with your co-workers?

Managers’ 3 biggest fears

1. I’m alone at the front of the company

Loneliness in leadership is a common sentiment, but you don’t have to go it alone. Although there will be important decisions you’ll need to ultimately make alone, you can build a solid network of allies to lean on at key times. Look for mentors, participate in professional communities and don’t hesitate to share your doubts and challenges with other leaders. Collaboration and networking are key to overcome loneliness and enrich your style of leadership.

2. My employees are demotivated and I don’t know how to get them back

A demotivated team can be a sign of deeper problems in the organization. The key is to understand the causes of this situation and address them. Do your employees feel listened to and valued? Do they have clear goals and objectives? Do their duties fit with their interests?

Implementing open communication, recognizing achievements and offering opportunities for professional development can revitalize your team’s spirit. An inspirational leader is one who ignites that spark of enthusiasm and fosters commitment among their workers.

3. I try to show empathy, but I just can’t connect with my team

These days, empathy is an essential skill in the art of leadership, but acting empathetically can be challenging, especially for managers who are used to a more authoritative style of management. In order to truly connect with your team, you first need to make an effort to understand their point of view and concerns.

But empathy is not just about listening but also acting accordingly, being transparent with respect to how far you can go. When your employees see that you genuinely care about them and are willing to make changes based on their needs and opinions, it’s easier to build an atmosphere of trust and collaboration.


Dispelling the myths and facing the most common fears can transform the way you lead and how your co-workers see you. At IESE, we believe in authentic leadership that goes beyond individual success and which focuses on serving and developing others. The key to being a good leader lies in self-knowledge and self-management. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, managing your emotions, and maintaining an attitude of constant learning are essential to manage more effectively, with integrity and empathy.

IESE’s programs for managers are designed to help you develop these key skills. You’ll learn to connect better with your team and make a greater impact within the organization.

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