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Work Life Lead: A Leader … Who ME?


Leadership is a catch-all term. It means different things to a lot of people. Many of the people I know whom I consider leaders would never ever call themselves one.  Leadership is not a term that carries much affection for them.  They are people who are influential in their organizations, within their circle of relationships, and know how to perform their job with excellence. Just don’t call them leaders

Why is leadership a term that has such mixed allegiance?

These people tell me that to claim to be a leader is egotistic. They may be the owner and head of a business and still not think of themselves as a leader.

What is it that they want to be know for?

Making a difference.  Being a good person. Conducting their business with honesty and integrity.

That is their understanding of a person who is effective, influential and makes a difference that matters.

What would they call themselves if not a leader?

They wouldn’t adopt any label. These people don’t see value in a titles or labels. They find value in other ways, in doing things, getting things done, and working along side people. This is what motivates them.

Seth Godin calls these people Linchpins.

The linchpin insists on making a difference, on leading, on connecting with others and doing something I call art.. The linchpin is the indispensable one, the one the company can’t live without. This is about humanity, not compliance.

Being a linchpin is a shift of understanding about leadership from being the person in charge to being the person who makes a difference that matters. This is what leadership in the 21st century now means.

If you are one of those hidden leaders who turn away from labels, let me encourage you to put aside your reticence to claim the title of Leader, and consider Linchpin as a worthy alternative. However, before you do, let  also encourage you to read Seth’s fine book.

In recognition of Linchpin’s around the world. Seth Godin issued a call for us – yes, I too am a linchpin. – to gather in local groups on June 14. People from around the world have taken up the charge to raise the flag to honor linchpins everywhere. Wherever you live, close by, there is a group gathering on June 14. You can find out time and place by going to a MeetUp site set up to organize these groups. As of the time of my writing,  there over 750 groups scheduled with close to 5,000 people planning to attend one or more gathers.

If you want to know more, you can check out the group blog Linchpins are everywhere, that provides additional information and resources for making each event the best it can be. If you are already planning to attend a gathering and you want to help out, download A Simple Guide (one page) for organizing a Linchpin event.

The place of leadership is changing. Today, a person who can think clearly, relate well to people, and organize to make a difference will function in a leadership capacity.  What I hope to see is more and more people have the aspiration to be leaders of impact. As a result, they will be linchpins, critical and integral to the success and wellbeing of their families, communities and businesses.

About the author

Dr. Ed Brenegar I'm a leadership speaker, writer and consultant who is a mentor and catalyst for change. I assist leaders and their teams in the transitions required to succeed in today's complex organizational environment. I live in Western North Carolina. I'm involved the Boy Scouts, a charitable leadership training group called Lessons In Leadership, an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, and am the host of the Say Thanks Every Day social network.

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Posted in General Leadership, Leadership Q + A, Work Life Lead.

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