Do You Treat “Lead” as a Four-letter Word?
One of the best parts of my job is meeting new and interesting people. This networking is a big part of what I do. It allows me to see where people are struggling, and identify where I can help.
I had a coffee last week with Karl Bimshas, a leadership coach and advisor. He has noticed that some of his clients have a negative reaction to the term “leader.” We theorized that it could be partly due to not wanting to be associated with the many “celebrity” leaders who have misbehaved. [For a list of misbehaviors, you can visit just about any newsfeed of your choice at any time, day or night.]
It’s similar in some ways to the negative connotation many people have around “sales.” Ironically, this includes people who are in fact great salespeople. There is a tendency for us to disassociate from any role that we believe has a widely-known, negative stereotype.
There is an inherent risk when we separate ourselves from these stereotypes just because of a few bad actors. The danger lies in what we deny others and ourselves. We often share characteristics with the people we disparage, and if we don’t intentionally and consciously use our power for good, we shy away from making a positive difference in people’s lives.
For instance, I’m not a fan of what’s called a peak experience event. These are rock star events with great lighting and at least one giant screen if not three or more. They are led by charismatic presenters with good hair, showing high-end videos with great graphics, and are designed to guide the audience to buy lots of their products.
But if I’m being honest, I’m sufficiently charismatic on stage that I could sway someone to buy something that might not serve them. To be clear I will never sell a product that I think is not a good fit. However, I should never pass up an opportunity to speak at an event, where I can teach and provide great value from the stage. That would be a like talented surgeon quitting so they aren’t associated with Jack the Ripper.
(As an aside, another other reason I’m not fond of peak experience events is that I know I’m one of those people who will get caught up in the excitement and buy programs I don’t need.)
Avoiding the reality of our gifts due to possible negative association with others might also deny ourselves a future in which we are fully expressed. We could be missing out on a lot of fun and satisfaction. I like to lead people, to show them their inherent strengths, and to help them find where they fit best. Also, I like being on a stage. No matter the size, presenting to a group energizes me and brings out my best.
If people are telling you that you are good at something, embrace it and show in your actions what that means in your world. Don’t worry about the bigger-than-life people giving your role a bad name. Just do it—right.