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Having a Title Doesn’t Make Someone a Leader

The distinction between someone who has a title after their name and someone that truly qualifies as a leader is huge.

There are bosses, managers and supervisors, etc. All recognizable titles. What’s often missed in this conversation is the frame-of-mind /context/or filter through which those roles are defined by the person with the title.

This is too often an unconscious choice. As in my own story, I thought my key role was constantly pointing out people’s perceived defects, weaknesses, what they were doing wrong, so they could fix them, so they could get better.

“Been there?”

“What was the cost to you on the receiving end?”

“Any chance it started in the home you were raised in?”

And, I was very good at what I thought my role was; and, as a very poor Boss – I was

certainly not much of a leader.

We see a primary role of a leader is to produce desired results through their people

period. How well a team performs is more a reflection of the leadership they are provided that a reflection of their people’s abilities.

In our context ‘to lead’ means to show the way, to ‘be’ the way. To be referred to as a leader is an acknowledgement of honor, a distinction.

Unfortunately, the examples we are most often exposed to reflect poorly on the essential core of what it truly means to lead.

So often on TV and in movies they always have the person in charge being the one giving all of the direction, having all of the answers, the one always being right.

Seldom have I seen the leader in one of these TV shows or movies to actually ask their people for their thoughts or ideas. This delusion in understanding of what it takes to truly qualify to be honored by being known as a leader continues to cost in so many ways.

The Missing Piece in Leadership book begins with a simple question for someone to

assess their effectiveness as a leader.

The question came up the first time spontaneously when working with an executive team. At the very start of the first session one of the top VPs interrupted me by saying “what we’re doing here is a waste of our time! We already know how to lead this company!”

So I said, “OK, let’s check. When your people see you coming, when they see they are getting a phone call or a email from you, is their first thought ‘Oh boy!’ or ‘Oh shit!’?

His immediate response was, “Oh boy!” Just as immediate was the response from a

number of his peers. “You’re kidding! If anyone needs to be here it’s you!”

“If your people felt comfortable enough to answer honestly, what would their answer be about you as a leader?”

The most consistently effective leaders we’ve supported of our three decades were the ones that were willing to have that open conversation with their people.

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