The way others perceive you and the way you think about yourself will determine why people follow you.
Leadership can be looked at from two perspectives. The first is you – do you see yourself as a leader? The answer is yes or no. The second is your followers (staff, superiors, market etc). Do they see you as a leader? Again it’s yes or no.
If your followers see you as a leader, and you carry yourself as one, they will perceive you as a Leader. It’s a case of your followers saying that they want someone else to take control and make decisions. You see yourself as that someone and fill the need they have. This is what everyone wants.
If you’re not in the Leader quadrant you will have trouble.
If your followers see you as a leader, but you don’t carry yourself as one, they will perceive you as an Imposter. It’s like the team leader who has been promoted from within but won’t take charge for fear of not being liked. The Imposter is the sales person who goes to see a customer but won’t lead the sales call. The customer is not interested in doing the sales person’s job and won’t see them the next time they come back.
Where you have real problems is when the followers don’t see you as a leader.
When the followers don’t see the person in charge as a leader, but that person carries on as though they are, then they are seen as the Enemy. It’s the motivational speaker who comes out after lunch and says, ‘We’re having a great time – let’s do some star-jumps’ and the audience thinks, ‘No – you’re a tool!” It’s the sales manager who declares, ‘This month we’re going to get budget! Why? Because we’re just going to get it!’ There is no grounding in reality and you get lots of push-back. This is the most dangerous place to be.
The final place is where no one sees the person in charge as a leader. Here they are simply perceived as a Loser. It’s a case of the followers saying “I don’t want to listen to a message you don’t want to give’.
Levels of Engagement
The Loser has to deal with disengagement. No one is listening – but that’s not usually a problem as the person in charge is not speaking.
The Enemy has to deal with disinterest. They could be giving out next week’s PowerBall numbers but the followers don’t care because they think the leader is an idiot.
The Imposter is dealing with disillusionment. The followers want to follow or buy but are not getting the guidance and leadership they want. This is why good staff leave poor managers and reliable customers start looking elsewhere.
It is only when you are perceived as the Leader that you get engagement. Here people want to listen to what you have to say. In this position you have influence and can sell more. This makes your life easier. You’re happy because you’re getting budget. Your superiors are happy because you’re doing your job. Your followers are happy because they are getting the leadership they want.
From Imposter to Leader
Over the last dozen years of working with senior managers I have seen that about 90% of people hold themselves in the Imposter position. They want to be the leader, but are afraid that if they step up they will be seen as the enemy.
The key to stepping up from Imposter to Leader is courage. Do you have the courage to take the next step in the process? Don’t look for confidence and that is often too far down the track. Have a plan to follow and have the courage to take just the next step in the process.
How have you found working for Leaders, Imposters, Enemies and Losers? Leave your comments below.