Recently I stepped aside from a leadership post, while still choosing to remain with the organization. This was a process we were engaged in for nearly two years.
Immediately, as the news spread, I was bombarded with questions of ,”What will you do now?”
The implication behind the question said I needed a title or a business card in order to have influence.
I have observed this dilemma in my organization for years. Leaders struggle to let go of their titles for fear they won’t have a platform. Some even invent titles to maintain financial support and influence.
I serve in the non-profit realm. I do realize there are times corporate titles open doors. The type of leadership I am referring to is one of influence. We all know people who have titles, but do not have the respect. Their directives evoke more eye rolling than response.
A business card does not make a leader.
The question remains.
Do we need a title to continue to have influence?
When will we step aside and allow younger leaders the same opportunities which were afforded to us?
I work in Africa where historically leaders have been quite title hungry. They string together elaborate collections of titles which may take several business cards to list. The idea of power is one which is fought for at all costs, and only given up through violence.
I will never forget President Obama’s first inauguration which was shown live in Africa. The Africans were shocked as they witnessed a peaceful transition of power rather than a bloody coup. Something we take for granted is revolutionary in the eyes of another.
A leader willingly stepping aside to make room for another is uncommon.
With my stepping aside, I believe it will be a win both corporately and personally. I think i will have an even greater impact and influence working alongside others than I currently do. I can use my experience and to coach and advise, rather than direct or delegate.
Corporately, I have given someone else a chance to flex their leadership muscles and add their unique strengths to the foundation I have already laid.
Ultimately we must ask ourselves if needing a title come down to insecurity.
Do we feel limited in what we can accomplish without a business card?
Are we uncomfortable having to describe what we do rather than simply listing a position?
Is our identity wrapped up in the job or a task we are fulfilling?
At the end of the day, legacy will not be determined by titles or business cards, but rather by impact and influence.
If you were to put your legacy on a business card, what would you want that to say? You may find it is quite different than a title or even activities you are engaged in which seem crucial.
Mine would say something like, “Sharing and promoting God’s grace so other grow personally and achieve things they never thought possible.”
That sounds better than such and such director or chairman.
So let’s share. What would be on your business card to describe the impact you hope to have? Please share your answer in the comment section below.