In the world of business, leaders aren’t only giving advice—they’re getting it too. Whether it’s tips from books, movies, friends, family or other leaders, leaders are often surrounded by others with well-intentioned advice on how they should run their businesses or how they can succeed in top leadership positions. However, not all of it is advice that should be followed.
Below, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share some of the leadership advice they’ve heard throughout the years and why they strongly disagree with it. Consider their insights before applying any of this advice to your career.
1. Leaders Should Take Fast, Decisive Action
One piece of advice I often hear is that a leader should always take fast, decisive action. In my professional experience, applying this advice as a blanket statement for all situations is a recipe for disaster. As a leader, if I don’t know the context of a situation, my first and most important job is to find out more information and ask the right questions. I am able to make a more thoughtful, informed decision when I have all the details. Pressuring new or young leaders into making split-second, authoritative decisions as a “sign of strength” can often lead to reckless leadership and an unhealthy company culture. – Cooper Harris, Klickly
2. You Need To Be Tough, Assertive and Invulnerable To Be A Good Leader
There’s an implicit idea that leaders have to be invulnerable, domineering people who “take charge” and push their team relentlessly to work. In real life, all this does is alienate your team and drive away your best workers. There are different forms of leadership, and a quiet and introverted person can be a great leader by bringing their creativity to everyday interactions. Leaders can also be nurturing, encouraging and get the best out of their employees by building people up rather than pushing them to do something. It’s worthwhile to examine whether you hold any unconscious beliefs about how leaders should be. You can develop your own leadership style that suits your personality and still gets things done. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
3. You Need Years Of Experience To Become A Leader
There’s a common mindset that you can only be a leader after several years, if not decades, of working under someone else. This just isn’t true today. You can start a business at any scale or just head a community project by leveraging social media. One of the best ways to become a good leader is to dive in. It’s also important to read books on leadership, mental models and interpersonal interactions too. Look for small opportunities in your life right now where you could apply your leadership skills. The more you do, the more likely it is that other people will notice you. At the very least, you’ll have experience and objective results to show when you seek a promotion or a higher role at another company. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
4. Leaders Should Trust Their Instincts
One thing you often hear is that you should trust your instincts when making decisions. “Trust your gut” is another popular version. In my experience, you should definitely consider your gut reaction, but you also have to do your research and consider the evidence. If you simply follow your gut, you can end up making emotional decisions. Sooner or later, this will lead to mistakes when your first reaction doesn’t consider important factors about the situation. This comes into play when it comes to hiring people and forming partnerships. Your gut may tell you that you like a person, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily qualified for the role. Conversely, the ideal candidate may not be someone you’d want as your best friend. Always consider the data as well as your gut. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
5. Leaders Should Work Long Hours Each Day
To be successful, you have to work endless hours in a day. Wrong! If you’re consistently overworking yourself, even at the start of your business, then you’ve made poor decisions. Of course, long workdays can be inevitable, but they shouldn’t be an everyday reality. By working so much in your business, it means you’re the bottleneck. You’re holding up your own professional and personal growth because your grip is too tight on things that could be optimized or handed over to other competent team members or contractors. Further, if you’re working such long hours, you will get burned out and fall out of love with what you’re doing. You’re setting yourself and your business up for failure if you don’t have a balanced schedule for your work and home life. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
6. Leaders Should Wake Up And Start Work Early
“The early bird gets the worm.” This philosophy simply doesn’t work and isn’t true for everybody. Not everyone is a morning person, and not all results are given during the early hours. Instead, adjust your thinking to making sure to optimize your extra time to perform work when you are most lucid and able to deliver work in a deep flow state. Late at night can be equally as impactful as early morning. The time of day doesn’t matter nearly as much as the result. The key is to continue getting enough sleep and optimizing your biology to work when you naturally deliver the most significant impact. When you’re in your working zone, make sure that you’ve removed all distractions and can really put your effort in during those periods that you’re most capable of giving your best results. – Tyler Quiel, Giggster
7. Leaders Should Keep Difficult Tasks For Themselves
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” That just doesn’t work when you’re leading a big organization, and if you say it out loud at your company, you’re taking a dig at the other people you have on your team. Instead, delegate and trust the judgment of your inner circle when you are not away. If they make the wrong call, accept that and walk them through how to handle the situation next time. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts
8. With Enough Self-Discipline, Anything Is Possible
You can stick to a strict schedule and work hard for hours to no avail. It does not matter how big your effort is; if your goals are not clear or are poorly planned, you and the entire team that you are in charge of will not be successful. I learned this lesson the hard way. When I started my company, I believed that self-discipline was the key to success, and my team and I worked a lot without seeing results. Now, although I still believe that discipline is an essential characteristic of any good leader, I work less than at the beginning, with greater success, because every action I do is well-planned and bears great fruit. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve