Have you arrived? Have you reached the pinnacle of success in your organization or chosen field? Are you at “the top?”
It’s been said that “the top” can be a lonely place. I suppose that’s true… for people who are leaders solely by position or title. But for an authentic leader it’s anything but lonely at the top.
Individuals who are leaders by title or position only are often “lonely at the top” because their lack of true leadership skills makes it very difficult for them to connect with their people. They become victims of their own “ivory tower syndrome” and are isolated from their people and the real world of what’s going on in their company or organization.
They wear their “loneliness” as a badge of honor and the price that must be paid to lead. There is really no good way to say this so I’ll just put it out here: they are poor leaders. They are so bad that I almost hate to describe them as leaders at all, but technically, even if by title or position alone they are indeed leaders.
They have no idea what they are missing. They miss the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of their people. They miss the opportunity to build future leaders. They miss the opportunity to leave a legacy and extend their leadership past their physical presence in the organization.
They miss all that and so much more. All because they buy into the Destination Myth. They believe that simply because they are now a leader they no longer have a requirement to learn or grow. They think that they no longer need to sharpen their communication skills or human relations skills.
What they fail to realize is that the moment they stop pushing themselves, the moment they begin to believe they are “set” and have nothing left to learn they begin to fail.
They may even have a strong desire to pass on what they know to others which is an outstanding leadership trait. Believing they know it all however makes it very difficult for their people to learn from them.
Authentic leaders on the other hand know that the most effective leaders and the most successful people in general learn something new everyday. They know that learning is a lifelong process and they also know that they will never know it all. They will never be “set”.
Authentic leaders know that every person on the planet knows something that they don’t and therefore they are open to learning from anyone. Authentic leaders have the courage to expose their “gaps” to their followers and to ask for help from anyone.
Authentic leaders are never lonely at the top because they bring so many people there with them. They bring their supporters and those that they support. They bring those who can help them and those who need their help. They never separate the “top” from the “bottom” and they fully realize that their position or title alone does not elevate their character above that of anyone else in the organization.
Above all, authentic leaders know that they require trust of their people to truly lead and that trust is built by being “with” the people they would lead. Without that trust there can be no real following and this much is certain: A leader without followers is indeed lonely at the top.
7 thoughts on “Do You Believe the Destination Myth?”
Geeez….hitting these right out of the ball park Steve.
Nothing to add my friend. Great post!
Thanks, this came from running into a “lonely at the top” guy this week. He mentioned you couldn’t really be a leader and have people trust and like you too. As you can likely tell, I don’t agree 🙂
Not surprised. There is still quite a few of those around. (both genders even) Partly due to old school training/mentality. We’re in a shift though. The gap between leaders and their people is too wide; prevents good communication all the way around, creates silos, automatically sets up the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, etc.
When leaders set themselves too far apart, they sabotage trust. People can’t FULLY trust someone they aren’t allowed to get close to. Or kept at arms length all of the time. Not to mention that instead of coming off as mysterious and respectable…it can come across as scared. Who can really trust and respect someone in a leadership position if they get the impression he or she is too scared to lead?
Now that might cause misunderstanding and come across as I hold a belief that leaders aren’t allowed to have any fears, etc And that’s not true. We ALL have fear. However, a leader can’t overcome those fears and BUILD the confidence they need by isolating themselves in some office or ivory tower. A leader won’t be able to trust their people UNTIL that leader has learned to trust him or herself. And the only way to do that is to actually rub shoulders with people and be WILLING to make mistakes.
It’s the only way ANY of us learn anything. By messing up and occasionally looking like a totall fool. (grins)
Thanks again for another great post this week. You are on a roll!
Great read, those words spoke to me!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
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