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5 Dec 2013

Leadership, The Secret (Pt 3): Leader as Actor

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series Leadership - The Secret

3 Gold StarsNo matter how authentic the leader, people will perceive that authenticity in the way they want. Thus, our authenticity will have many hues, some liked, some disliked. Some will even dislike that we are authentic. Therefore, our leadership development is very incomplete if we do not learn how to assess and manage people’s many perceptions. Maintaining a perspective that we are acting as leaders rather than being leaders will help.

Initially, this might sound disingenuous, but remember every member looks at us differently. Thus, we won’t appear as one particular vision of leadership but many. That is because no single member can completely know us, so members’ own views will fill the holes. If they like us, they will fill with good stuff, if not, bad stuff. How genuine is this?

Over time, as the grapevine works itself, the views of us will coalesce around a few. Viewing ourselves as an actor keeps us focused on influencing these perceptions, playing to our audience, while maintaining a healthy internal perspective as to who we are, just as actors separate their roles from their true selves. Otherwise, if we assume that we are the leader, we are more likely to suffer from superiority complexes, dishonesty and hubris. Not only is this bad for us but also for the group.

From this perspective, many leadership programs are self-absorbed or just embellished self-help remedies. While building up self-esteem is important when low, leadership roles are extremely seductive and feed this to unhealthy levels. It’s nature’s way of weeding out mediocre leadership, although not before extracting a huge cost from the rest of us.

In essence then, leaders are actors whose stage is the hearts and minds of the groups’ members. On any stage, who triumphs: good actors or good people?


Series Navigation<< Leadership, The Secret (Pt 2): Training ImplicationsLeadership, The Secret (Pt 4): Leadership Riddle >>

2 Responses

  1. Great article – Leader as actor.

    I came at this from 180 degrees – and Awful Leader….

    “Awful Management” has clear characteristics:

    1. Management has insufficient knowledge or wisdom to run the organization successfully.
    2. Management has no vision for the business, so employees are not motivated towards a common cause.
    3. Management neither trains nor develops employees in support of the common cause.
    4. Management has no inclination to listen to its employees or advisors.

    Best regards – Gary Sheard

    1. Mike Lehr

      Great characteristics, Gary. Thank you for visiting and providing valuable contributions. I suspect this might work into your #4, but I would highlight that Awful Management has poor relations, poor interpersonal relationships with their employees. I ran across this early in my career when an employee said, “You talk to us like we’re human.” It helped me add another dimension, perhaps a humanistic one, to my perspective of management. Again, thank you for your engagement here and on Twitter, Gary. Enjoy your day!

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