Privileged Leadership

There are many different “types” of leaders today and two of them are privileged leaders. Yes, privileged counts twice because we have those who feel privileged to lead and those who feel leading makes them privileged.

One of those groups have an opportunity to be excellent leaders, the other not so much.

Let’s look first at those “leaders” who believe leading makes them privileged. (I put leaders in parentheses because identifying these people as leaders is a very generous use of the word.)

Leaders who feel privileged separate themselves from their people. They provide themselves with “perks” not available to most people. They somehow have convinced themselves that their title or position entitle them to extra benefits or stuff. They will even brag about their special status to the people they are trying to lead. These leaders build walls between themselves and their people, the walls are built from egos but the “leaders” don’t even realize they exist.

Leaders who feel privileged don’t understand the significance of the words they use…. or maybe they do. When given the choice of identifying their people as “our team” or “their staff” they invariably choose staff so there won’t be any doubt as to who is most privileged. These privileged leaders feel it’s important to keep people in their place.

Leaders who feel privileged have separate rules for themselves. The believe in the adage that “rank has it’s privileges” and that’s how they lead. They expect more from others than they expect from themselves. They hold their people to standards that they talk about but fail to live up to themselves. 

People who believe leading gives them privileges demoralize their people. They tear their people down to make themselves appear somehow better, at least in their own mind. Leaders who believe they are privileged steal every bit of “credit” from their people and leave their people believing they have no true chance at success. 

A leader who feels privileged creates an environment of despair for their people.

On the other hand following a leader who feels privileged to lead is a truly remarkable experience. Leaders who feel privileged to lead feel a responsibility to those they lead to help them succeed. They celebrate the success of their people more than they celebrate their own success. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead give extra credit for success to their team while accepting more than their share of responsibility for any lack of success. The support the show their people is unwavering. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead take their people where they couldn’t go alone. They coach, they mentor, they develop and they care about their people. Leaders who feel privileged to lead invest themselves in the success of their people, giving all the effort they have and then giving a little more.

Leaders who feel privileged to lead don’t only build more followers, they build more leaders. They know that ultimately their success is completely dependent upon the success of their people and they extend their leadership by building leaders to leave behind when their own leadership days have passed. 

Leaders who feel privileged to lead create an environment of hope and possibility. They have earned the right to be considered leaders and they hold that title with honor. Watching a leader who feels privileged to lead is like watching poetry in motion and when you see one watch closely because they are the model of successful leadership today.

8 thoughts on “Privileged Leadership

  1. I could not agree more Steve! Titles, desks and perks don’t make great leaders or loyal employees!

    A CEO of an extremely wealthy and powerful company scheduled a meeting with another company. The day before the meeting, his staff visited the location he would be at to review the agenda and identify any potential security risks. The day of the visit the CEO arrived in an escorted caravan. As soon as doors opened several members of his staff began making and serving tea for everyone at the meeting.

    The entire process fascinated my friend but he was not impressed until he witnessed that very powerful CEO personally engaging with people from a variety of positions. In each interaction he focused on the individual in front of him. He asked personal questions and demonstrated a genuine interest in each one.

    Power may be fascinating โ€“ but people skills are more impressive.

    1. Absolutely, people skills trump (maybe trump isn’t the best choice of words anymore ๐Ÿ˜Š) power every time. Poor leaders boss, great leaders simply influence.

  2. Steve–this was a fascinating read; thanks for sharing this distinction between the two kinds of privilege that leaders can feel. At the end of your piece, you tell your readers to keep an eye out for leaders who feel privileged to be leading. Do you happen to have any people off the top of your head who you think are good examples?

    1. Well surprisingly (at least to me) I’d say President Obama is an example of a person who feels privileged to lead. I disagree with most of what he does but I somehow get the sense his motives are pure. I think he is a mess but he means well. He wants to make a good difference. Hillary would be the absolute opposite… Donald is in a league of his own and I don’t have a clue what that league is ๐Ÿ˜Š

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