3 Outdated Axioms Leaders Should Stop Using in 2018

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Have you ever encountered a leader who clearly had leadership skills, but who somehow seemed to be out of step?

It happens more often than you’d think. “Out of step leadership” is demonstrated when a leader seems to be stuck in outdated leadership principles, which are often revealed through 3 outdated leadership axioms.

If you find yourself clinging to any of these axioms, there’s a good chance your leadership is not in step with the times.

1. “It’s Lonely at the Top”

Leaders who still espouse the idea that relationships cannot or should not be formed in the halls of leadership simply do not understand the dynamics of today’s reality.

Perhaps there was a day when leaders would close themselves off to the broader relational world, and lead from a sense of isolation. But in 2018 that approach will not work.

Leaders today bring an inclusive approach to vision-casting, team development and decision-making.

2. “Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat”

The idea undergirding this axiom is that leaders must project a fierce, under-control demeanor at all times and under any circumstance.

And certainly there was a day when this rugged, infallible image was a cornerstone of many leadership practices. But in 2018, people expect more from their leaders. They expect authenticity.

This doesn’t mean projecting a nervous uncertainty in the face of every challenge. But it does mean having the courage to be able to say to your people, “Team, this situation has me greatly concerned. But together, I know we can prevail…”

3. “Leadership Has its Privileges”

At a time when leadership was associated with special parking places, corner offices and various other bonuses, the idea of the privileges of leadership had their place.

At that time, it was simply assumed that the leader was entitled to various perks unavailable to the rank and file team member. But in 2018 people are inspired by leaders who are fully committed to the welfare of the entire team.

Leaders today bring a humility and servant’s heart to the team that inspires loyalty and dedication.

And so as 2018 unfolds, let me urge you to align your growing leadership skills with the realities of today’s leadership environment.

Because in leadership, there’s nothing worse than having today’s skills stuck in yesterday’s world.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. I agree these axioms are outdated, however, many leaders are still living in a reality where these are everyday occurrences. In a recent survey, it was surprising to see how many respondents said they were lonely or leadership is lonely. I believe there’s still a road to be trodden to get to where leadership is no longer lonely.

  2. Agree with your point Joseph; adding that, in such cases as you’ve cited, these are largely “self-inflicted wounds”. A leader who finds themselves isolated has, in most cases, erected the very walls that are closing them off from a broader relational world.

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