Issue Number 11: Leadership and Staying in Your Own Lane

Remember when you were a teenager and somebody’s dad (hopefully not yours) was always trying to act “cool?” He would try to copy your teenage body language and use your teenage vocabulary, and it was so sad! Remember how it made you feel? You wanted parents to act like parents – to stay in their own lane.

The same thing applies in elephant herds and organizations. When you are promoted to a position of leadership, you are no longer just “one of the guys.” It is tempting to continue acting like one of the guys – that is your comfort zone – but you do not belong there anymore. Your staff members want you to act like a leader and if you don’t, it can not only make them uncomfortable, it can erode your authority, and it can leave a mark.

It is also important to draw clear boundaries between the work you are doing and the work others are doing. If you weave into their lane by offering too much guidance or interfering too often, you will establish a pattern that can backfire. You may be trying to help and your motive may be pure, but you cannot assume others are going to make the effort to find out. You will be what you are perceived to be. If you are just trying to help but you are perceived to be meddling, then you are meddling.

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