It All Starts With Who

leadership identity

We’ve all been believing a lie. This lie is sneaky. It seems to be an obvious truth, but is really an insidious deception. I believed it for years. You probably believe it too.

Here’s the lie:

You are what you do.

Here are some things that this lie would have us believe:

  • I marry a lovely person, therefore I am lovely.
  • I get a promotion, therefore I am successful.
  • I build a thriving company, therefore I am a great leader.

Those connections are all somewhat logical, but they lead us down the wrong road. As we head down that road, we continually define ourselves by the stuff that we’re able to produce. Our identity is mistakenly identified by the activity of our lives.

Turn It Around

What we need to realize is that the activity in our lives is an outpouring of our identity. What we do does not define who we are, but who we are defines what we do. Lets look at the examples from above again.

  • Wrong: I marry a lovely person, therefore I am lovely.
  • Right: You are a lovely person and are thus able to attract another lovely person. If that perfect mate doesn’t come along, you are still the same lovely person.
  • Wrong: I get a promotion, therefore I am successful.
  • Right: You are a successful person. In your diligence, you earn a promotion. If the promotion never comes, you are still the same productive worker.
  • Wrong: I built a thriving company, therefore I am a great leader.
  • Right: You have the innate talent and God-given skill for leadership. In using those treasures, you are able to build a great company.

Ask The Right Question

When you got up this morning, you may have asked yourself this question:

What do I need to do this week?

Here’s the question you should have asked:

Who do I need to be this week?

As leaders, this must be our highest concern. I can study all of the leadership books out there and concentrate on all of the methods of great leadership. What I can’t do, however, is produce the results of a great leader unless I am willing to develop the identity of one.

This comes by not simply studying the hearts and minds of others, but by thoroughly examining my own and committing to intentional growth. If you want to be an effective leader, this is what you will have to do as well.

Start with who. Once you figure that out, the what will come naturally. Tomorrow, we’ll look a little deeper at our identity and who we really are. Feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed so that you don’t miss anything.

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