Leadership Stories: Who are you now?

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

We are the center of it all. The success of our followers, our organization, our vision, depends on us.

We are the center of it all. The success of our followers, our organization, our vision, depends on us.

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

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We point the way. It is our vision that makes us important and useful. Our followers carry our vision forward.

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

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We walk at the front of the pack. We take the biggest risks, we get the deepest rewards, we have the courage to walk the talk.

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

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Among our peers, we are the ones with the light. Creativity is in our bones. We’re connected. That’s what we give the world.

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

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We know what buttons to push. We can work the system.

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

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We turn old roles into new roles — we point the way towards change by working inside the system as role models.

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.

4 comments

  1. […] Kidd and Castano's study about empathy and reading literary fiction, that empathy is increased by creative thinking, imagination, and the willingness to suspend disbelief and explore fictional worlds. Who knew that […]

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  2. […] us insights beyond our own experiences. It’s worth paying attention to this dream wisdom. The stories we tell ourselves waking matter, and so do the stories we tell when we’re sleeping. These stories can help us be better […]

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  3. […] said about the idea of domestication, and the role of leaders? Sometimes I think it's the lack of a bridge between the stories we're living and the choices we're making that causes the most frustration. We want people to care, and we topple when we don't get the […]

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  4. […] the story that faith built, the dream that turns out a nightmare. Change is the way of leadership. Servant leaders often get stuck in the savior story, and need to remember their time is short, and when it’s time, it’s time to step down […]

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