Leadership is Not About Your Title

I had been a member of a professional group for about 9 months. This group has “levels” that separate the beginners from the more experienced. When I joined, I received the ego stroke of qualifying for the “more experienced” level.

I like ego stokes. They feel good.

However, I hadn’t been getting emails to hang out with the “professional group” at their specific meetings, even though I had checked and rechecked my email address with the organization. The culprit was a small technical snafu on one email list.

These things happen. It’s how we handle these moments that reveal our character.

How did my character respond?  I want to say that I thought nothing of it. No. Big. Deal.

I want to say that.

Instead, I was initially bothered. Driven by an unconscious insecurity, I wanted to explain all of the reasons that I qualified. That I had earned it. I wanted to wear a big sign that shared the whole story so people would know why I deserved to be in the more experienced group.

That was my embarrassing, internal, initial 5-second gut reaction.

Thankfully, I did not react that way on the phone while talking to the amazingly helpful people who resolved this minor issue for me. I never have to tell anyone (except you) that I failed at basic leadership principle #1: No title, level, name, experience, or association makes you a leader. You have to BE the leader, and others will know it, even without a pedigree of proof behind you. Don’t worry about the title. Do what leaders do. The rest is noise.

Leadership is less who you are when big issues arise and more who you are during the muffled hiccups of the average day.

[tweetthis]Leadership is who you are during muffled hiccups of the average day.[/tweetthis]

Next time, I hope I cut down the embarrassing gut reaction to 3 seconds. I’ll keep you posted.

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