Leadership Identity – Self-Perception Determines How You Lead
“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Anonymous*
Competence enjoys challenge, but when you see yourself as incompetent, challenge ignites anxiety. Focus on the incompetency of team members creates reluctant teams.
Strength sees opportunity. Weakness sees threat.
Victims blame. Owners take responsibility.
Identity shapes how you experience the world.
Choose your leadership identity:
4 factors contribute to identity:
- Genetics. You were born with a predetermined height, skin color, and temperament.
- Environment. If I had been born in Paris instead of Maine, I would have a different identity.
- Choices and Behaviors. How you act impacts who you become. You weren’t born a body builder, but you might say, “I’m a body builder.” That’s an identity of choice.
- Relationships. “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Anonymous
When you say, “I’m a leader,” what identity do you choose?
Ancient cultures in the Middle East often saw leaders as shepherds.
David, the shepherd boy who became king, best illustrates the ancient Hebrew connection between leadership and shepherding. The most famous psalm in the Hebrew Bible begins, “The LORD is my Shepherd.” Ps. 23 In other words, God is, among other things, a shepherd.
Muhamad said, “All of you are shepherds, and each of you is responsible for his herd.”
Show up like a shepherd-leader:
- Live with sheep in mind. Leading is about people before it’s about results.
- Bring challenge and support. Constant turbulence hinders performance. How are the sheep when you show up?
- Work to advantage others. Convince the sheep you have their best interest at heart. Sheep-centered leaders thrive. Self-centered shepherds stumble.
What comes to mind when you think of yourself as a shepherd-leader?
What other metaphors might expand a leader’s self-perception?