How to Lead When You’re NOT in Charge – Identity

We have just started a Book Club at Improving to discuss the book How to Lead When you’re NOT in Charge. I’ll be posting some of my main thoughts here as we cover two chapters per week.

“Great leaders leverage influence and relationships over title and position. Influence has always been, and will always be, the currency of leadership. Influence always outpaces authority.

Those bits got me thinking back to when I was 16 or so. For whatever reason, at least at the time, Brazilians used to use the “Dr.” prefix for the bosses (usually directors and such), regardless as to whether the person had a doctorate or not. That to me was a sign of title and authority over leadership (I’ll just say the person didn’t act as a leader).

“Once you become aware of something, you start seeing it everywhere”

 

That one comes up often. Keep an open mind, increase awareness, increase the potential of influencing others.

“Take responsibility to make great what you can make great. And let others do it in the areas that they can make great.” – Jim Collins

 

That bit makes me think of the disservice it is to not let others perform what they’re great at. For example, instead of doing something myself, even though I don’t know how to do it, just for the sake of saving some bucks, is a disservice to those who do that for a living.

“Leading without authority means you need to have a clear understanding of your identity – who you are as a leader, apart from any titles.”

That one had me thinking that many times I have not even put myself as a leader, but ended up being followed, mostly because people know what I stand for and look up to me for guidance.

In speaking of leaders and followers, I always think of one of my favorite TED talks, “How to start a movement, by Derek Sivers”.

“The most important ongoing conversation you have in your life is the one you have with yourself every day.”

This is another point that comes up in many places; this idea of “the story we tell ourselves”.

“The more you understand the makeup of your personality, the better you can understand how your identity shapes your thoughts, desires, and decisions, and the better you’ll be able to work with others.”

I’ve had conversations over the last couple of years that have helped me understand that thought better. There are traits I have that I wasn’t quite aware of, until someone else pointed it out to me. I then started being more deliberate about it; if it’s something people relate to, I might as well leverage it as a “super power”.

“Architecture of Identity: Past, People, Personality, Purpose, Priorities”

James Clear’s post on Identity-based Habits got me thinking a lot about this many years ago and I’ve been often reviewing my habits and how they line up with my desired identity.

“The clearer you are about who you are…
– The more consistent you’ll be with others
– The more confident you’ll be about what you do
– The less concerned you’ll be with the opinion of others
– The less confused you’ll be by your emotions”

I have worked with a number of clients as a consultant, where I didn’t have the authority to be a formal leader, and yet, consultants were expected to demonstrate informal leadership behavior.

And a point in the book that really hit home: “Think about Martin Luther King, Jr. What was his title again?

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