A leader. The simplest definition of the word leader might be “one who is followed”. But I’d wager most of us have more complex definitions than that. I’d suppose that most of us see a leader as someone with some sort of admirable characteristics, even if we may disagree with how those characteristics are used. There are people whose speaking skills enable them to gain a following, and while I admire the speaking skills, I may not admire what is being spoken nor the motivation of those who make up the following.
Most of us know a leader when we see one, even if we can’t define exactly what it is that gives them that “leader” quality. By the same token, most of us can identify those who are not leaders, and I would think that one of the most telling signs of a non-leader is the person who feels the need to advertise, blatantly, that they are a leader.
There may be many such opportunities, but the one I’m thinking of right now is those people who include phrases like “Experienced Leader” or “Great Leader” in their Linkedin.com titles where most people just put “CEO” or “Computer Programmer”. “CEO” is a title. “President” is a title. “Director of whatever” is a title. They are primarily functional in nature, although of course we all known individuals who use such titles more as a means of boosting their own egos than as descriptions of duties. But “Great Leader” or even “Experienced Leader” go a bit too far for me. Does anyone put “Great Leader” as the title on their business card? Maybe the party head in China does it, but here the U.S? Come on…
So I did a little more poking around on Linkedin. I searched for “leader” in a variety of fields. First off, there are a lot more people with the last name “Leader” than I would have thought. No joke, it’s a real last name. Second, I found several acceptable ways to use the word “Leader” in a title such as “sales leader”, “recruiting leader”, “group leader”, and “team leader”. Obviously these are functional titles, and not an effort to tell anyone “Hey, I’m a great leader.” Well…they may in fact be exactly who I’m talking about, but they’re being a bit more sly about it and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Lastly, I must admit to being guilty of advertising my own so-called “leadership skills”. I’m not sure anyone can resist the temptation when filling out their first application for the Harvard Business School. So if you’ve sinned in this regard, so have I. Let’s just agree right now to not do it anymore.Liked it? Share it!