Solution Saturday: Tiger Without Sexy Stripes

Hi Dan,

I need some development help.

I am told I influence people, but I am not technically a leader. I am middle management on a team of 10. One of the newer members.

I was told in my review last week that I have such influence, I need to be careful with that power, to advance further in my career.

Let’s dispense with the notion I got told to “dance”, fundamentally I did, but I want to grow for me. I heard this analogy in my younger sporting life, that I need to use “my powers for good”.

My challenge is, if I am not the Captain, why am I expected to act like the captain? I want to address this and develop, as I am apparently a tiger, without the sexy stripes!

Thank you,

Tiger Without Sex Stripes

live beyond your job description if you hope to earn the next position.1

Dear Tiger Without Sexy Stripes,

Congratulations on earning the respect of others.

Some might be uncomfortable with your use of power, but I am not. Power is neither good nor bad. Power used in service to others is good. No one aspires to be powerless.

I wonder if power in this context is about charisma? If so, your passion to develop yourself is essential. Charisma – apart from character and practical know how – is a disaster.

Here are my suggestions.

#1. Develop self-awareness.

There seems to be a disconnect between how others see you and how you see yourself. This is common in leadership.

  1. Invite feedback about power. You learn to see yourself when others tell you what they see in you. (Even when they are off base, the exercise is useful.) When you’re told you have power ask:
    • What makes you say I have power?
    • What do you see me doing when I’m acting powerfully?
    • How might I use my power in service to others?
  2. Connect your story with a personal vision for your leadership. How do your values connect to your story. What events formed your character? Read:
  3. Take personality, character, and strength assessments. My personal coach, Bob Hancox, delivers an assessment I found helpful called PRO Development.
  4. Deliver great results and reflect on what fueled or drained your energy.

#2. Clarify what you want for yourself.

You wrote, “My challenge is, if I am not the captain, why am I expected to act like the captain?” I could be off base, but I sense some inner conflict between what others want for you and what you want for yourself. 

It’s easy to lose yourself in the expectations of others. I’m not encouraging you to become cold-hearted or ignore the expectations of others.

Self-awareness will help you clarify what you want.

#3. Define leadership.

  1. What does becoming a leader mean to you?
  2. What is leadership from your point of view?
  3. What do leaders do?

A clear picture of the leader you hope to become guides the process of development.

You might find it useful to shift your language from captain to servant. Servant-leadership has broad application that even captains can embrace.

#4. Fulfill the position before earning the position.

Everyone who earns positional leadership fulfills the role before receiving the position. The “stripes” of leadership confirm your leadership. They don’t make you a leader.

Have you ever heard someone say, “This isn’t my job. Why am I doing it?” Leaders who earn opportunities are always fulfilling jobs they don’t have yet.

Live beyond your job description, if you hope to earn the next position.

#5. Three bonus tips:

  1. Build relationships with coaches and mentors.
  2. Read broadly.
  3. Take on new challenges.

I’m thankful for your email.

You have my best for the journey,


What suggestions do you have for Tiger Without Stripes?

What has helped you develop your own leadership?

*I relax my 300 word limit on Solution Saturday.

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