Mission or Position?

Jan 30, 2009

By now you know I’m pulling for the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s Super Bowl 43. If you read Leading From The Bench, you know why.

Whether we’re talking football or business, securing a win depends in large measure on who’s leading the pack. I’m not a leadership expert by any means, but it seems to me there are two different kinds of leaders. There are those who lead in order to cash in on the perks of the position: control, title, power, credentials, payroll, kudos. These people create a ruckus, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of one or two. And my guess is you won’t want to hang with them for long.

Then there’s another group of leaders  (i.e. Kurt Warner) who lead because their chief goal is to drive the people they care about (their team, if you will) to embrace a mission. How do you know if you resemble the first rather than the latter? Start with a couple questions:

  • Are you offended when your achievements are overlooked?
  • Do you view contacts, peers, subordinates, partners as a means to an end?
  • Do you feel compelled to let everyone know it was “my idea”?
  • Is delegating responsibility or sharing the stage difficult?
  • Is it tough to admit someone else can do “it” better than you?
  • Does the success of others within your sphere feel at all threatening?
  • When you overhear a peer talking positively about someone else, do you wonder why they don’t see the same qualities in you?
  • Do you find yourself defensive and resistant when receiving input or criticism?

Leaders who lead like this make it all about themselves. They may end up achieving the goal, but there won’t be anyone to share the champagne with after the win.


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