One of my favorite quotes by Robin Sharma (leadership guru) is “Leadership is NOT a title, it’s a behavior.”
I love that quote because it’s such a mind shift. Because so much of what people do in the corporate world is to work hard to get a promotion, a new fancy title. But for the most, the focus is not on cultivating leadership skills and being of service to your team.
Getting the credit, getting the title – is such an ordinary human desire. But it takes someone extraordinary to do something great, and not take the credit and be OK with not having the title.
We write our names on our work, we present with pride (always trying to “look good”), and we make conversation with upper ups who we don’t really care to befriend.
So much of work is ego-driven. Having the best idea, presenting your idea and seeing your “precious baby” get built – can lead to attachment and vanity if unchecked. Those behaviors stem from underlying selfishness (“me first!”) and fear (“what if I am not accepted!”) that leaves you unsatisfied.
What if we could get back to leading? To being of service to others on our team.
There’s this great article that late Leonard Nemoy (Spock, RIP), wrote to a little girl who was dealing with prejudice at school. His advice resonates with my ideas on leadership without a title:
He replaced the idea of wanting to be liked with the idea of becoming accomplished. Instead of being interested in being popular, he became interested in being intelligent. And instead of wanting to be powerful, he became interested in being useful.
He said to himself: ‘Not everyone will like me. But there will be those who will accept me just for what I am. I will develop myself to such a point of excellence, intelligence, and brilliance that I can see through any problem and deal with any crisis. I will become such a master of my own abilities and career that there will be a place for me. People of all races will need me and not be able to do without me.’ And that’s just what he did.
I think that summarizes a true leader’s mindset so well.
As my own coach once said, “you’re always winning the game you’re playing.” If we chase titles rather than focusing on being useful and developing ourselves – we may win, but the victory will be hollow. This is why so many leaders deal with imposter syndrome. They don’t have the proper mindset and are not sure if they are providing the value their team seeks.
Ending with a quote from Robin Sharma,
“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”
Just some food for thought.