We all play different roles in life. Sometimes we might feel that the roles are pre-determined – especially in relationship situations where we can either be children, parents, significant others, friends, lovers, whatever – or any combination of the aforementioned…

I’m sure you know what I mean. Societal pressure, stereotypes, or inertia often force or coerce us – or make us believe we are forced or coerced – to behave in particular ways. I have spoken to many friends who feel trapped by their inability to choose better, healthier behaviour patterns. For example, a successful married person – 50+ or so with children – can find themselves falling into a debilitating trap of playing the needy child with their own parents. The library is full of such books!
In business we can fall into the same trap, and the results are equally frustrating, often debilitating, sometimes offensive, and even times humiliating. And what’s worse, it affects many more people, none of whom owe us the slack that’s given by family members, because it can impact their careers, earning power, bonuses, etc…

In fact, I’d argue that leadership is all about making the kind of choices that don’t follow pre-determined roles and that the most successful leaders are the ones who are able to transcend the confines of a stereotype – not getting locked into someone else’s vision.

Simply put, leaders know when to lead and when to be led. Leaders also know when to back out and back off.

There is no entitlement that comes with leadership. The best military generals always roughed it with their troops.

The quote:

“Lead, follow or get out of the way.”

To me this is a clear follow-up to Ben Franklin’s quote of last week – stated as an imperative.

Truth is, this can be read in many different ways. I hope that you take the time to see its many possible meanings. My sense though, is that in the “All roads lead to Rome” sense there is a basic reading here, a foundational concept that at least to me rings true.

Some days you are the one who plans for and buys the Xerox machine. Other days you make copies, and once in a while you just open the paper reams and fill the tray.

See you at the paper cabinet…

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