Halloween is here, and everyone is geared up to sport their best costume. After all, it's our yearly opportunity to transform into someone more interesting. We can replace our normal persona with a more unique and dynamic character who is nothing like us at all, so we are all in search of the perfect costume.
Leadership masks are similar to Halloween costumes but with deeper purpose. While we wear the masks of responsibility and vision, the masks that we choose to wear go far beyond covering our outward appearance. The more we wear them, the more they actually consume our inner leadership DNA. With every leader that has impacted our lives both positively and negatively, we have been slowly molded and shaped by the leadership mask that we identify with the most, and that is when the real masquerade begins.
So which mask is the perfect one for leaders?
Clark Kent has always been there to save the day. The leader of strength uses his superhuman powers to improve the organization. The downside to this mask is that Superman believes that no one else has the power to do anything. In essence the ability of the organization rises and falls on the shoulders of this superhero.
One of my favorite movies is "Pirates of the Caribbean" with the wiley Jack Sparrow. Every kid loves dressing up like him. He is such a unique character that is capable of escaping any jam. While he is a very charismatic and unique leader, Jack has a problem. He is very selfish and is always in it for himself. He will help others, but only if it benefits him also. In essence, he gauges success only by his own accolades.
The Robertson clan in my opinion is awesome. With their family values, massive beards, and entertaining show, who wouldn't enjoy watching them. Their family dynamic is fantastic, but this mask has nothing to do with them personally. The Duck Dynasty mask is that of the latest leadership fad. This leader buys into the latest and greatest leadership principle and thrusts it upon the organization without their input. Sadly, the organization won't have to worry for long because this leader will have a different mask next year when the next new idea comes to town.
This is the one of the most popular costumes of all time and one of the most traditional leaders of all time. The Dracula leadership mask lures people in and then sucks the life out of an organization. With every last minute email sent in the middle of the night or every mandate or directive that controls rather than empowers, Dracula sucks the creative juices out of every member of the organization. His constant search for power kills the lifeblood of the community and drives the people away to safety in another place of employment.
The voice of reason is what every organization needs from its leader. Speeches of a new day and opportunity invigorate enthusiasm. But when the organization never sees prosperity following the political talking points, the organization grows increasingly deaf toward the rhetoric. This mask uses words to start a fire, but it burns out faster than it began due to lack of substance, specificity, and most importantly follow-through.
The Perfect Mask
The challenge for all leaders is to stop looking for a new mask and embrace the mask that they were born with. People don't follow unique masks for long. They follow character, confidence and commitment, and they continue to follow leaders who elicit meaningful action and positive results. If you want to find the perfect leadership make, start by taking off the mask of insecure bravado. Quit following the fads or leadership fashions of others, and follow the most important leadership organ you have, your gut. Your staff will find that as the best Halloween treat of all.