Are You Developing Your Position or Your Potential?


It’s not necessary to hold a position to influence an organization. Your leadership potential is recognized before the promotion. Too many people mistakenly believe that a position will make them a success, and fulfillment comes with a title. The truth is positional minded leaders are among the most unhappy and frustrated people in an organization.


Position is the starting place for every level of leadership. It’s the foundation where all leaders begin. The foundation is responsible for the support of the structure built upon it. Just as the depth of the foundation determines the height of the structure it supports, so too, the depth of character within the leader determines the height of influence that leader will reach.


John C. Maxwell stated; “Good leaders don’t rely on their position, power, or title to do their work for them. They know leadership is about connecting with people. Any time leaders take a positional approach to leading others; they are destined to be a disappointment.” (1)


“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential” – Winston Churchill


Your Position Reflects Your Potential Promotion is based on potential; it’s that simple. The signs of your demonstrated potential are what fits you for more responsibility. Your potential increases in proportion to your efforts to grow yourself. Would you promote someone in whom you see no potential for growth?


Contrasts Between Growing Leaders and Positional Minded Leaders


Growing Leaders are People-Centered Growing leaders are hard workers; they’re lifelong learners continually developing character and sharpening their skills. Growing leaders are always developing relationships with other leaders as well as the people around them, by adding value to everyone they contact, their influence grows naturally.


Positional Minded Leaders are Self-Centered Positional minded leaders may be hard workers, but their preoccupation with being noticed has them developing their image more than their skills. They tend to develop relationships with other leaders and those around them just to get ahead. Instead of adding value to others they’re waiting for someone to add value to them by way of promotion.


“It’s leadership proficiency and not a position that determines effectiveness” – JSP


Developing a strong foundation of character is the key to growing leadership. The height you reach is determined by the depth of your leadership ability. Since leadership is influence, your accomplishments will be in direct proportion to your ability to lead others.

In describing the law of the lid, John Maxwell said, “Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organizational effectiveness.” The statement that everything rises and falls on leadership is true. Leaders will either raise the potential of an organization or stifle it.


Growing Leaders are Lid-lifters Growing leaders focus on potential instead of position. Everything changes when you see potential in yourself and others. People willingly follow instructions and advice. People follow because they want to not because they have to. Growing leaders influence people relationally, not via a position.


Positional Minded Leaders are Lid-Lockers Positional minded leaders are too preoccupied with protecting their territory to be focused on developing ways to help others improve their performance. Positional minded leaders tend to be insecure, so they influence people authoritatively, not relationally.


Something in Common Honest productive team members are usually in agreement when it comes to those who lead them. Growing leaders and positional minded leaders have one thing in common; it’s the opinion of those around them that for different reasons they do not belong in the position they currently hold. People agree that the growing leader deserves to be promoted based on his or her their track record, and the positional minded leader deserves to be removed based on theirs.


(1) Article “Positional Leaders: Destined to Disappoint” by John C. Maxwell July 13, 2007


*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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