Blasphemy! A coach celebrating people who don’t aspire to leadership? Off with my head.
I coach leaders. Lots of leaders. They’re terrific – smart, interesting, and motivated. I am grateful and honored these leaders choose me to walk beside them.
I also coach people who have no desire to be a leader in the corporate sense. That’s not who they are, and I applaud them for not succumbing to pressure to fit into the mold that receives lots of oohs and aahs. Non-leaders are also smart, interesting, and motivated. I am equally grateful and honored these non-leaders choose me to walk beside them.
We need all types of people to make our world work. Being a CEO is certainly admirable, but no CEO could do her job at the top without the hardworking staff below. Skilled graphic artists, sharp accountants, creative programmers, savvy event planners, and more are essential to smooth, successful, and profitable operations. Furthermore, not every inspirational teacher wants to be a principal, not every compassionate doctor yearns to run a hospital, and not every insightful journalist wants to be editor-in-chief.
My grouchiness about this prescriptive goal of leadership comes from two main sources. First, the media, from women’s magazines to business journals, promises us the key to becoming and remaining a business leader is just pages away. The implication is that’s what we want. Magazine after magazine, month after month, year after year, we are bombarded with this message. The subtext is that being a leader, particularly in the business arena, is the obvious goal of everyone. Never mind that you love your work, and your life is humming along at a lovely pace.
Second, my grumbling about this leadership emphasis comes from colleges and universities. These institutions of higher education state they are looking to admit leaders. Children as young as thirteen know they better beef up their leadership credentials to get into their desired college. Whatever happened to getting good grades, playing the cello in the high school orchestra, volunteering for a good cause, working part-time, and, dare I say, being a kid? Not all of us started our own tech companies by sixteen or built a school somewhere in Africa at seventeen.
So here is my simple takeaway: be yourself because that’s exactly what our world needs. Thumbs up to the leaders AND to those who choose a non-leadership path. It will continue to be my great honor to work with all of you.