This group was known as the Leadership Team for their school and most had been part of this group for a few years. Yet when asked to assess themselves as leaders the majority of them were seemingly paralyzed. As we discussed why… an underlying theme emerged.
While they had respect for their principal they did not want to ever be like many of the people in leadership positions they had seen come and go. Blinded by what they thought being a leader was supposed to look like, they did not even consider the possibility that they could determine the kind of leader they wanted to be.
The notion of leading without a title has gained ground, yet the grip of past interpretations of what it means to be a leader continue to have a tight grip on many organizational cultures, not only in education, but in business and government as well.
It is particularly strong when you have highly technical people who pride themselves on their knowledge and skill in their craft. Sometimes promotions are granted as a way to reward them financially even though these individuals often have no interest in managing or leading. Yet if you listen closely you will discover that lack of interest in managing or leading is only part of the story.
Having been an IT professional for many years before becoming a leadership coach and organizational change consultant, I have explored this resistance to becoming a “leader” from both the inside and the outside.
What I have observed is that often people do not want to become a leader because they think they will have to become like someone else. That someone else is often already “above” them on an organization chart or in a position of power that has impacted them in some way.
There is an unspoken belief for many that if you get to a certain level or position you will have to change who you are.” ~Susan Mazza Tweet this
For some it seems they would have to become like people for whom they do not have very much respect. What that “certain level or position” may be cannot be defined globally. It is very personal.
This belief is a myth that continues to thwart the loud call for leadership from every corner of our world. It is a myth that for many is barrier between the concept of leading without a title and embracing that they can and often are already leaders as a reality regardless of their position or role in life. It is also a myth that keeps people from embracing the call to lead in their current role or position.
Being the most effective leader you can be requires that you become the most powerful expression of yourself rather than attempt to emulate someone else.
A leader is someone who takes action to make a difference where they work or live in service of a commitment to something that contributes to others. In the framework of Random Acts of Leadership™ that means speaking up, stepping up or standing up in service of your commitments.
It is only when we start to consider leadership at the level of action that we can begin to observe the simple yet potent acts of leadership that are committed everyday by people at all levels in organizations and all roles in life.
Just look around you and you will see examples every day leaders – people who are speaking up, stepping up and standing up for something that matters to them and makes a difference for others.
The skills of leadership can be cultivated by anyone. However, to cultivate them you must be willing to act; and to cultivate them in others you must be able to recognize leadership in action.
What other myths do you believe are thwarting leadership from flourishing where you work and live?