Leadership Identity


When consulting with administrators, executives, or leaders who have come up through the ranks I often hear a common theme: My subordinates don’t respect me because of my background. In other words, “My background is holding me back.”

The “background holding me back” story is a myth. What really holds new leaders back is not their background, but the story they tell themselves about their background. This story becomes their leadership identity. When new leaders continue to identify with their past, their previous industry or their humble beginnings, it is because they have not stepped into their new role and title as leader. As a result, their focus is on what is lacking, whether that be experience, education or status.

New leaders often make the same mistakes: They put too much effort into being liked and not enough effort into leading, which contributes to unnecessary workplace drama parallel to parent child drama. In other words, just as your children needs a parent and not a best friend, your employees need a leader and not an enabler.

A checklist to see if your new leaders have lowered their standards include the following observable behaviors:

  • Avoiding difficult conversations
  • Allowing sub-standard performance
  • Joining in on office gossip
  • Turning a blind eye to bullying
  • Failing to make tough decisions
  • Overlooking policy violations

In short, what really holds a leader back is how he or she shows up today, and not their background, experience or status.Leaders who inspire others walk the razor’s edge of meeting employees where they are, while inspiring employees to step up and be more.

We work with leaders to elevate their leadership through how they speak, how they dress, how they express values, make decisions, and their ability to build and maintain professional relationships.

To inquire about working with Marlene or bringing this program to your association or business, call Marlene direct at 417.831.1799, or Marlene’s Assistant, Heather Joyner at 252.678.3788 to set up a conference call for exploration.