There’s No Me In Leadership June 8 2011

Am I the only one who’s gotten tired of all the stories we’ve had lately about self absorbed “leaders” behaving badly? Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve written about four of them in the posts, Four Dogs, One Hero and Three Danger Signals That Your Integrity Is At Risk. Now, we have Congressman Anthony Weiner and his creepy sexting scandal and world class lying about it.  I wrote about Weiner on this blog three years ago and, clearly, things haven’t gotten any better with him.

Weiner1The part of the Weiner story that really stood out for me was the self-portrait that was released in which he’s holding up a little sign that says “me” to prove to one of his correspondents that,  yes, he’s the same Congressman Weiner she’s seen on TV.  We’ve all heard that, “There’s no I in team,” and now Weiner has reminded us that there’s no “me” in leadership.

The real leaders are the ones who make it all about them – the people they’re leading. They’re what some call servant leaders.  They act in service of the people they lead. I’m fortunate to have a lot of coaching clients who fit that definition. One of them is a guy I’ll call Sam who was just assigned an interim senior management role after his previous boss left the organization. Frankly, Sam’s strategy since taking the role has been to do the opposite of whatever his boss did. In a nutshell, that means connecting with people in ways that work for them and create the focus and morale required to get stuff done.

The stuff Sam is doing is simple really. They’re the kind of things that people do if they’re focused on the needs of others and understand that there is no me in leadership. Here are a few examples of what Sam’s doing that’s working for his team:


  • Sending an email to the extended team that specifically welcomed new members, clarifying what roles they would play and giving everyone a heads up on what’s coming next.  This goes a long way in organizations that are in the midst of a lot of change (which is most organizations these days).
  • Establishing a recognition “club” to celebrate everyone who makes their quarterly goals
  • Sharing his perspective from an annual customer conference with the entire team. Sam is focused on establishing the context so people see how they fit into the bigger picture.
  • Spending a lot of time walking and calling around to see how people are doing.

Like I said, simple stuff.  It’s not rocket science. It all flows from understanding that there’s no me in leadership. 

What are the simple things you’ve done or seen a leader do that really make a positive difference?

3 Responses to “There’s No Me In Leadership”

  1. Ken Buch says:

    I see "real leaders" recognizing the strengths of the people they lead. Giving them a forum to use their skills and allowing them the space to demonstrate those strengths on signifcant projects and highly visible initiatives. Giving people the opportunity to work in their sweet spots infuses the organization with energy and passion. The leadership can focus on guiding people who are empassioned and driven with powerful energy to achieve greater results, rather than pushing people against their will to produce.

    I believe what Congressman Weiner has done is a reflection of the larger mindset of the body he belongs. It is self-serving and destructive. It is less about leadership and being a voice for people and more about power and status. The arrogance of leaders who believe they are beyond reproach creates a threat to all who count on them to be their voice. The kind of threats that discredit integrity, trust, engagement and support. It manifests our basic fight and flight functions!

    What ever became of true servant leaders?

  2. Kent Wrenn says:

    I like Sam too, but this Wiener thing – it just keeps getting better! I thought this whole affair was really a comedy writer conspiracy to boost tv ratings, but with this picture, maybe Wikipedia is behind it…just look up Weiner and you'll see his picture! It fits my definition in so many ways.

    BTW – he seems rather deft with that phone camera…

  3. People really do need to start realizing that leadership is not about individual power or success. Misusing power is not a sign of a good leader.
    Check out 'The Wise Leader' by by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi (… ) which talks about 'wise' leadership that aims towards the greater good.
    - Girish ( )

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