Today, I spoke to Robin Sharma,who is the author of The Leader Who Had No Title, and a Fortune 500 leadership adviser. In this interview, Robin talks about leading without a title, if titles really matter in the corporate world, how a title might get in the way of your success, and more.
What does it mean to “lead without a title” and do you think it’s easy for executives at company’s to do so?
“To Lead Without a Title is to understand that the old model of leadership is dead.”
We have now stepped into Leadership 2.0 and any business that is serious about winning in these turbulent times needs to get that. “The Leader Who Had No Title” distills what I’ve learned from working with the best organizations in the world into a formula any businessperson can use to seriously change the game. And it starts with understanding that leadership is no longer about the title on your business card. It’s about influence-and impact. And building leaders around you. Now, anyone can lead. And smart enterprises will grow leaders at every level. So each teammate starts doing world-class work. And dazzles customers by their exceptionalism.
Most people are trained to graduate College, then find a job and climb the corporate ladder in hopes of becoming the CEO one day. Do titles really matter that much?
I’ll be the first to say titles are important. Positions and a formal structure are essential to the superb running of an operation. We need people at the top setting the vision and holding ultimate accountability. I’ve learned that in my work with organizations like GE, NIKE, FedEx, IBM and Yale University. Having said that, what I’m suggesting is a business’ core competitive advantage now comes down to getting every employee to Lead Without a Title. To view themselves as the CEO of their own small business unit that is their job. By doing this, people will shift from being a victim to becoming a virtuoso. And each teammate will drive innovation, customer wow and exceptional results.
A title can certainly open doors. If a Vice President emails a manager, they will respond faster. Can a title also close doors?
I don’t think titles close doors in business-but they do close minds.
Here’s what I mean. Too many employees go to work each day and excuse being world-class in their work because they don’t have a title. They are half-alive to their work and clock punchers versus icon builders. Yet, the message in “The Leader Who Had No Title” is that each one of us not only now has the opportunity to show leadership in our work – we have the responsibility to do so. In stunningly successful businesses, everyone sees themselves as part of the leadership team (Google is a strong example). My encouragement is to remember that few things make you feel better that the pride you feel on a job brilliantly done. So Lead Without a Title. Innovate. Model excellence. Be unreasonably ethical. And be the most passionate person in every room. Big rewards will flow to you.
Companies, especially successful ones, change their workforce structure a lot. How can someone take advantage of this change to become more successful?
Drucker said it well: “shift from a focus on problems into a focus on opportunities.”
That sounds like common sense but it’s not common practice. So yes, businesses are facing a lot of disruption right now. But disruption is the beginning of innovation. Now is not the time to hold back. It’s the time to take some smart risks, bring genius-level value to as many people as possible, leverage social media to grow a cherished brand and leave a trail of leaders behind you. Many of the FORTUNE 500 began in The Great Depression.
How have you built your own personal brand? What does it take to become known in over 50 different countries?
My books have been my calling card. They have become word of mouth phenomena. And after businesspeople read them, they call our shop and want us to help them grow Leaders Without Titles within their organizations. I have also evangelized the Lead Without a Title brand in over 50 countries through an intense speaking schedule. Few things are as powerful as connecting with people live since authenticity and passion is contagious. I also do a ton of media interviews as I like the scale that allows. As well, we leverage the digital/social media to grow our base of followers. I fuel my Twitter addiction daily and play on FaceBook and the other usual suspects.
Robin Sharma is the author of The Leader Who Had No Title. He has been quietly sharing a success formula with FORTUNE 500 companies for over 15 years and many of the super-rich that has made him one of the most sought-after leadership advisers in the world. Robin is one of the world’s most highly respected leadership experts and a man devoted to the mission of helping organizations develop people who Lead Without a Title so they win in this period of intense change. His clients include Microsoft, GE, FedEx, IBM, Nike, NASA, Yale University and The Young Presidents Organization. Sharma’s books such as The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Greatness Guide have topped bestseller lists across the globe and have sold millions of copies in more than seventy languages. They have also been embraced by rock stars, royalty and many celebrity CEOs.