Leadership is Not About the Cape

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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capeOur kids have attended overnight camp for almost 10 years, since they were 7 years old.

One of their traditions is color-war, when the camp of about about 400 campers is split into 4 teams for a week-long competition.

Of course, every kid wants to be a Color War Captain.

Every kid wants to wear the Cape.

How do the counselors help the campers that were not selected move past their disappointment, and fully engage in the team spirit? They embody the phrase, “You don’t need a cape to be a leader.”

Whether in a bucolic camp setting, or in the halls of a Fortune 50 organization, it’s true. You don’t need the cape to lead, inspire, or encourage others. You need heart, vision, and spirit.

I recently presented on Legacy Driven Leadership, and was asked, “What makes a leader?”

We can all learn how to be better leaders. However, the essence of leadership is intrinsic.

The heart-based desire to serve others, to make a lasting impact in the lives of others, to apply our personal strengths  to help others through difficulty …this is not something that one can learn from others. 

Leadership shows up in all aspects of our lives. As a leader, I’m intently focused on listening, empathizing, and reflecting before responding to help someone else. I understand the weight of my influence. As a leader, I strive to see interactions as teachable moments in which I can reach back to my own experiences to help others move through theirs.

As a leader, I constantly reach out for help to learn about better ways of moving forward, I work hard to ensure my ego does not cloud my judgement, and I seek out opportunities to empower others to lead.

Legacy Driven Leadership leaves an impact long after our brief time here has concluded. Legacy Driven Leaders understand the weight of responsibility of shaping those that come after us, and of their part in making the world a better place than what it was while they were here.

Legacy Driven Leaders understand that everything they do counts, because others are looking to become better people as a result of following them.

Every decision, thought, & vibration that we emit into the universe has far-reaching ripple effects, far beyond what we will ever know. In legacy driven leadership, everything counts.  

This type of leadership can’t be constrained or defined by a title, a corner office, or a cape.

Unfortunately, way too many organizations and individuals overlook leaders who don’t hold the right positions or titles. Conversely, many people assume that a person is a capable leader simply because they are in a position of authority.

Authority is not leadership. Authority gives an individual the right to direct others, but giving direction is not necessarily leadership. People may follow orders, but they are not necessarily following a leader.

How do you define leadership? What unconscious biases about leadership do you apply to those you know in leadership positions? Do you believe that because someone holds a specific title, they deserve your respect? Or do you believe your respect should be earned?

I recently came across a Fast Company article that identified the 10 best and worst leaders of 2015. The 5 worst leaders include:

  1. Donald Trump.
  2. Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of Volkswagen: He was known for fostering a cut-throat culture that “may have contributed to the company’s unethical and illegal installation of software that failed to accurately report emissions on its vehicles.”
  3. Martin Shkreli, founder and former chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals: “In one night, the cost of a drug that had been on the market for 62 years shot up from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet. Daraprim is used to treat the life-threatening parasitic infection toxoplasmosis in pregnant women and their unborn babies, and people with compromised immune systems as a result of illnesses like cancer and AIDS. It’s also used to treat malaria.” He was arrested in December for securities fraud.
  4. Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos: She misled both the government and the public about the capabilities and effectiveness of her product to test for diseases.
  5. Dan Price, cofounder of Gravity Payments: There are allegations of domestic abuse as well as harsh treatment of his former partner & brother, Lucas, who sued him.

Who are some of the leaders you admire, and why? These are very personal decisions. The leaders we admire somehow connect with our heart and perhaps inspire us to believe we can be great leaders as well.

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About Successful Culture

We work with business owners, CEOs, and leadership teams that want to achieve their greatest personal & organizational potential. Through coaching, strategic consulting, retreat facilitation, and workshops, we equip leaders & emerging leaders with the mindset, tools, strategies, and processes they need to excel.

Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter.

Please check out my Inc. Magazine columns on my Author Page too.

Learn about the 12 Habits of Horrible Leaders, and How to Break Them.

Wishing you joy and success on your journey!

In gratitude,

Marissa Levin
CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”
[email protected]

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