Leaders are sold, not made. We build an identity worth living, and create a leadership style we think can make us successful (however we define that.)
It’s all a show until we live it in real life. Then it becomes who we are. Then, when the leadership strategy we’ve made our own needs to change, we have to change who we are. That’s when things get messy.
Innovators make themselves indispensable, which works great until they need to let someone else into the center. It’s hard to share that space.
Visionaries thrive until change forces them to come to earth. Then relationships chafe, initiatives falter, and followers go on strike. The vision alone is no longer enough.
Frontrunners get respect for taking risks and building momentum, but people in the back get antsy. Where are their perks? Do they have to stay in those background roles forever? Dissent from behind stalls progress. What happens when the frontrunner has to turn around?
Creatives get excited when they lead from out of the box. Even more than innovators, they build a career based on the results they get from seeing what others can’t. When creatives have to do more prosaic work to make their genius sustainable, they have to do more than shine.
Engineers strategize, plan and work the system. When the world is stable, life is good. Things improve step by step. When things change too quickly, the system breaks down. Then engineer leaders get stuck in the mechanics. Who are they when the buttons don’t work anymore?
Role models take a role and make it theirs. Sometimes it’s a traditional role, and sometimes it’s a new one, but either way it’s a role, and it has rules. Being a role model — a figurehead — can start to chafe. What happens when we change, but the role we’re modeling doesn’t? Who are we then?
It’s all a show until we live it in real life. Then it becomes who we are. Then, when the leadership strategy we’ve made our own needs to change, we have to change who we are. If we don’t have a big toolkit as leaders, we get stuck in a personal rut, and our organizations and teams get stagnant.
It’s important to pay attention to the stories we’re living. They might just become leadership traps.