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Authentic Leaders - Not For Sale

Recently, a colleague was interviewed for a large promotion. On paper she was the best candidate, but she didn’t get the job. She felt overlooked, shamed, and started questioning her worth.

She waffled back and forth between being embarrassment for not being “good enough” and angry that others didn’t see her value.

She imagined that promotion would validate her worth to the organization. Because of this thought process, when she wasn’t selected, the natural progression was to feel low self-esteem.

We misunderstand leadership as something to be attained and held on to in order to show our worth.

We seek to garner support and rally the troops behind our cause for the sake of obtaining yet another leadership position.

We schmooze with the “right” crowd to look and feel the part.

We sell ourselves short of what leadership truly is.

The reality is that leadership is a position of stewardship - stewardship over processes, outcomes, and most importantly, people.

It is not something to be attained at all costs and then held on to with voracious tenacity.

Leadership doesn’t belong to you. It can’t be bought or sold.

It is an election for a prescribed amount of time. After that prescribed amount of time, we move on to another stewardship position.

The problem is that leaders frequently allow the position to establish their personal worth. If they either don’t maintain their position of leadership, or aren’t seen as useful for a “higher” or “better” position, they take it personally.

They start to believe they themselves are not worth anything of value if they can’t obtain or retain leadership positions.

An authentic leader realizes their worth outside of position. They focus on building their value outside of labels to prepare for either continuing in the current stewardship role, or moving on to another.

They better themselves for the sake of stewarding others to grow as well, regardless of current position or title (or lack thereof).

Albert Einstein voiced it well: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”


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