Leadership from the Inside Out

Leadership from the Inside Out image Insideoutwave 165018 140x140Leadership from the Inside OutBy definition, leadership is founded in action and not in title. And while title can occasionally create an association of leadership, such as president, CEO, or other top level executives. Being in one of those positions does not in fact make you leader. In actuality the only way to be a leader, is to lead.

Over the past several years I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with and meet some fantastic business leaders. I have also had the opportunity to meet some individuals with great titles who couldn’t lead a conversation on the weather. But somehow they have emerged into enviable positions leaving you to wonder how that happens?

Perhaps they are an “extroleader”

One of the most interesting leadership trends I have seen over the past several years is the emergence of the “extroleader.”

What is an extroleader you ask? The term is one that I have come up with, and this role is representative of a leader that can be the face of the organization to the outside public; customers, investors and stakeholders.

The anomaly about the “extroleader” is that many of them have no internal leadership skills whatsoever. So they are able to drive a strong public opinion and give great appearances of success to the outside world while not being able to get their assistant to schedule them a lunch appointment.

Often this is driven by excessive interest in the individual brand of the leader (ego) rather than the true development of the brand as an organization. A subtle, but deadly nuance for the growing organization.

What is most interesting is that this type of leader can find their way to the top because they do drive strong outsider behavior. (Think investors and consumers.) People believe that they are well liked because they are charismatic as far as they can tell. But looks can be deceiving.

Leadership inside out

The best leaders are genuinely able to drive the best from everyone around them. While never short of deficiencies (being human), they are able to make people want to be better than they are.

As a leader within any organization, the biggest mistake one can make is building a leadership facade to the outside world while having an army that won’t fight for you.

With your business culture being at the center of meeting your vision, you need to have all hands on deck. This starts by focusing on driving your vision, message and values internal to your organization.

Taking an inside out approach, earning the respect of your team and closest stakeholders before focusing on the external environment will pay dividends.

A higher degree of leadership difficulty

Coming up with witty and charming content for the outside eye can be quite easy. Think about how we are often fooled or misled by politicians, athletes and stars as we hang onto their every word wanting to believe them…

Proving day in and day out to be a leader to those that you work closest with is hard. This is because the things you say can’t stand on their own. Your entire behavior and value system will be closely associated to your words and will prove to be critical as to whether your team will follow you. But the more difficult nature also builds a more loyal following.

When you prove your vision, mission, and values to your team they will fight to build the brand of the organization behind you. And it will be built on a stable platform that is far sturdier than the “glass house” that extroleadership creates.

External leadership is okay

Having said all of the above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good outside facing leader. In fact, it is an important part of growing an organization.

The key is that the outside leadership matches what is being communicated within the walls of the company.

Meaning consistency is the key. It isn’t egomaniacal to want to create an impressive organization if the intent is good. However, the organization where the leader paints a picture that the employees can’t see will struggle endlessly to amount to its potential.

Because leadership must start within and permeate out…never the other way around.

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