If you didn’t read the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes as a child you missed out on a great lesson in the danger of valuing your own self worth and the importance of the truth!
If you don’t know the story it’s about an emperor who gets conned by a duo who tell him they have woven a fabric so fine it cannot be seen by anyone not fit for their position or hopelessly stupid! The emperor to avoid disclosing his “stupidity” confesses to see the fabric and his courtiers, so not to displease the king (or to protect their own position), agree.
It takes a naïve child to reveal what everybody knows as the emperor parades naked in his new “clothes”.
This is what happens when being the leader becomes more important than leading.
When I see leaders who need to proclaim their leadership I start to wonder why they need to tell me. It reminds me of the quote by Margaret Thatcher about a woman who needs to tell you she’s a lady, probably isn’t!
Our emperor in the story was a positional leader. As a consequence, he was a prime target for flatterers and sycophants. He was easily manipulated and prone to “proving” his position by generating an illusion much like his new clothes.
Positional leaders often expose themselves with the following behaviours:
Continually telling you what a good leader they are;
Jumping from one plan or idea to another;
Surrounding themselves with immature “sub leaders” under the guise of “teaching” them;
Over reliance on “spin”;
Staff rotation and change;
Controlling and “bullying” type behaviour;
Lack of tangible results;
“My way or the highway”.
Contrary to this a “good” leader has no reason to exhibit any of the above. They are confident in their leadership because they receive buy-in even from those who disagree. Their immature sub leaders are drawn to them rather than appointed by them and the achievements of the organisation are obvious to all, not just the leadership group.
If you’re aspiring to leadership or are a leader it’s important to be confident in your ability to lead. This means developing genuine relationship with those you’re leading. You won’t need to prove you’re a leader if you’re focused on leading rather than being the leader.
Here’s another tip!
If you’re failing don’t pretend you’re not! Don’t make up excuses or develop spin to pretend it’s part of the plan. Gather the troops, ask them what they see and devise a new strategy to move forward. A follower who is prepared to put their life on the line to help you “take that hill” is worth more than a dozen flatterers telling you what you want to hear!
If you lose yourself to being the leader rather than leading you’re already naked, its only you who hasn’t noticed.
Debs ; )