In an airport yesterday I glanced down and saw the title of a book about the legendary comedian Red Skelton. It was titled, the Mask Behind the Mask.
I had two immediate thoughts – my Dad would have loved that book, and I don’t know about Red, but that title applies to many of us, all day long.
There are certainly masks that we all wear, and so this post could go a number of different directions. But I want to talk about leaders, and one particular mask that we wear – one that I see (and see through) all the time.
The mask is the “I’m committed to being a more effective leader” mask. Leaders believe this is the politically correct mask to wear. So they . . .
- Say the right things when they attend training that is provided (but don’t seek out learning opportunities for themselves)
- Sign their people up for training (if they ask or if it is convenient and comfortably within the budget).
- Buy the latest book, and maybe even read it (but don’t put any of the ideas to work, beyond cocktail party talk).
The mask they wear is one of the Leader who wants to improve and build their skills.
Too many of these people (you?) are impostors.
The number one role of a leader is to be a learner, because from the habit, discipline and skill of learning flows all improvement, capacity, synergy and growth required by successful leaders in today’s world.
And if we wear the masks I’ve described, rather than truly being a learner, focused on becoming more effective, more productive – in general doing what it takes to reach our potential and make a bigger difference in the world around us – we’ll continue to be impostors.
We’ll be playing at leadership, playing a role, thinking that is what leadership is.
Playing that role and wearing those masks will, sadly, keep you in the majority.
Stripping off the mask, and becoming real and genuine about your desire to reach your leadership potential through new experiences, and learning, and practice and coaching and self awareness and growth, may put you in the minority. It will require some effort and investment on your part.
But the rewards will be greater satisfaction, greater personal meaning in your work, more successful teams, more productive, happy and successful followers, and a knowing that you are making a difference in the world.
Making those choices and choosing that path will make you a real leader, regardless of your current skills or experience. The path of the leading learner is the true path of leadership.
It is time to drop the mask, and stop being a leadership impostor.
If you agree, we are here to help. There are a variety of ways we can help you and/or your organization become learning leaders, instead of impostors. You can learn more by contacting us (317.387.1424 x2 / email@example.com ) or by requesting information about our training or consulting Special Reports or get your free leadership gift (all from the graphics in the right hand columns.