Leadership Titles Can Be Like Soup Can Wrappers

Have you opened a can of soup expecting chicken noodle only to get cream of mushroom? Mislabeling can lead to disappointment and frustration. In similar fashion, someone “labeled” a leader who performs in the opposite to the stated title or role can disappoint and frustrate his or her team.

Are you pursuing a title because you believe it will define your position as a leader and give you credibility? If yes, please reconsider your motivation.

The title of leader will no more make you a leader than drinking scotch whiskey will make you Scottish. Ultimately a title is meaningless unless you live and act in accordance with what the title communicates and represents based on your actions and attitude.

“If you think you are leading but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk” – John Maxwell

The positive aspects of a leadership title include the following, and yes, there are times when the title and authority definitely matter:

  • Informs others of your position and rank
  • Defines your responsibility and influence
  • Ability to improve the situation for others and bring about changes
  • Provides the necessary credibility and power when negotiating important agreements
  • Adds the necessary weight and political influence when dealing with other senior executives – internally and externally
  • Provides a platform to passionately model and live the core values and principles that define the corporate culture. (This one is really important for creating a healthy and positive corporate culture. If the leaders don’t live the values, the values mean nothing)

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

Flip the leadership coin and you’ll also discover some potentially negative aspects of the title:

  • Makes you appear threatening or intimidating
  • Causes people to back-off because of feeling inferior or having lower rank
  • May be used to lord over, influence or force others to comply
  • May be viewed as a power grab
  • Staff may be reluctant to share information unless specifically requested
  • Employees withhold negative or unpopular information fearing it may be used against them or negatively impact their advancement

When leading others, you accomplish more by helping others gain confidence and improve effectiveness based on your advocating, coaching, mentoring and teaching.

Make decisions, communicate and lead based on the culture and organization you want to build. Focus less on your title and position and more on how you contribute to the team and organization.

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” Andrew Carnegie

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