Who doesn’t like a title? As a priest I’ve met abbots, monsignors, bishops, cardinals, and popes. All men, different titles. Institutions such as the church, academia, government, and corporations thrive on the use of titles. They define roles. They also imply a load of “entitlement.” Titles are inherently hierarchical and create a social and business structure that divides, rather than unites. They often proclaim: “We’re one big family. And some of us are more equal than the rest!”
Titles get attached to people who are supposed to lead. How would you define an effective and respected leader? Is it by the title they hold? Is he a charismatic figure who rallies others to carry out a mission? Is she there to take final responsibility (and blame) when things go right (or wrong)? Is she someone gifted with indispensable skills and experience, or the product of a carefully planned and executed popularity campaign?
“Leaders” in their fields may actually have little knowledge and few skills. They are simply filling a spot, playing a role. Others may learn quickly on the job. Some bumble along and let others pick up the pieces resulting from their incompetence.
Titled or not, don’t we want to respect our leaders to have good character and integrity? Don’t we want to admire their morals and ethics, how they serve the common good? I like leaders who are curious, want to learn, listen carefully, have emotional intelligence, and are humble enough to admit and correct mistakes along the way.
I also want leaders who anticipate change as an absolute and view change as an opportunity, not a problem. They need to be able to address change with empathy and compassion and consider the upheavals change often brings to colleagues and clients. The quality of their work is obvious to all, without needing self-justification or self-aggrandizement.
What if you were such a leader without a title? Indeed, what if you and every adult is automatically given the mantle of leadership at birth? What would it be like if we stopped looking solely at leaders at the top of the pyramid, and depended more on untitled leaders such as you and me?
The most effective leaders throughout history have often been ordinary, unsung men and women who took the right action, at the right time, for the right reasons, in unselfish service to their fellow citizens.
Do you want to make the world a better place for everyone? Then accept the fact that you are an untitled leader. What’s the next, best action you are being called to take?
Need to talk? I’m here for you. firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 813-449-3904 My book can help: Life Interrupted: Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed