Recently, we gathered as a group of leaders to discuss change and how to lead through, around, or over organizational roadblocks. Our conversations at Authentic Leadership Dallas are always engaging, honest, and fun. Just what a group should be!

As we were discussing change, one of our leaders said that CEO is the title on his card but everyone knows him as the Sales Guy. Nothing wrong with this. Everyone has a talent or specialty, no matter our formal title. When he said those words, though, an odd thought flowed through my mind and it is this:

What title would someone put on your card?

Would it be:

  • Jerk
  • Energizer
  • Egomaniac
  • Authentic
  • Phony
  • Controller (and not the financial type!)
  • Engager

What title do people give you?

More importantly, what title have you earned?

TitlesMost organizational traditions give people a title. Over time, our titles change and may increase in importance — at least in the way they sound and appear. As we consider our titles, we should think about the following:

  • While our titles are given on based an organizational classification, how would others classify what we give back?
  • In what we give back, what words would describe our character?
  • In how we receive from other team members, what words would describe our character?
  • What title have we really earned?
  • What title really matters?

Titles that Matter

The titles that matter most are the ones we know but, unfortunately, lose sight of as we get caught up in our status. The titles that matter most are:

  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Daughter
  • Son
  • Friend
  • Teacher
  • Student

I know. These aren’t really titles; they are roles. You’re right, yet these are the ones that determine what type of leader we are. Our character doesn’t begin in a company. Too often, character ends here. If we don’t get our character right in the roles we fill, how can we get our character right in the titles we carry?

Let’s drop the titles we print on our business cards. Let’s forget how many titles we can string together to make ourselves sound important.

Instead, let’s focus on what we do to raise the standard of leadership. Let’s focus on what characteristics make us a better person as well as make others better around us. Let’s do things that earn respect. Let’s lead change with strength of integrity in all we do and say. Let’s focus on what title others would give us, as it will be based on their experiences in working with us.

So, take the step and ask the people who know you well — what title would they place on your card? 

 

 

Jon Mertz
Jon is a vice president of marketing in the healthcare software industry and named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business by Trust Across America in 2014. His background consists of an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and working for companies like Deloitte, IBM, and BMC Software. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders. Connect with Jon on Twitter @ThinDifference.
Jon Mertz

@ThinDifference

With a thin difference between two generations, a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story. Close the gap & enable Millennial leaders to excel.
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