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I See Posers

As a consultant, it's not hard to find posers in the workplace.

"What's a poser?" you ask. Fair question. The term itself can be ambiguous.

At it's core, a poser is an individual who doesn't walk the talk. He wears the title of leader but doesn't actually lead. She holds a lot of meetings but never accomplishes much. He has the expensive Italian suit on the outside but inside is barely out of diapers. She uses a lot of buzzwords, but her voice drowns out her message.

You know who I'm talking about. We call them fakes, frauds, charlatans, imposters, quacks, pretenders, cheaters.

The next logical question is how do we combat the posers when we uncover them? It takes leadership. True leadership. Extreme leadership.

Radical_Leap_ReenergizedI've talked about Extreme Leadership before. Steve Farber, who coined the term, is the undisputed master Extreme Leadership. I've blogged about his books before. Over the years, I've had the privilege of getting to know him fairly well. And he's the real deal.

So what makes Extreme Leadership different from generic, run-of-the-mill leadership? Well, technically nothing. Except that we've watered down the term leadership so it has all the strength of non-brand Kool-Aid. Think about it. How many people do you know who claim to be leaders, but their view of leadership is scaring their "followers" into compliance?

And that's the core difference between posers and leaders: fear vs. love. Farber's Extreme Leader Mantra is "Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do." That one phrase completely reshaped my view of who I am and what I do. As a project manager, I'm no longer afraid to turn down client work for certain organizations in town. Why? Because they are so entrenched in fear, there's no room to love what they do, let alone what other people do.

Also, the Extreme Leader

  • Cultivates Love
  • Generates Energy
  • Inspires Audacity
  • Provides Proof

Each of these would take multiple blog posts to explain, but in many respects, they don't need explanation (or at least they shouldn't).

I want you to try some exercises for me over the next couple of days:

  1. Read the headlines of the newspaper, cover to cover. Look for stories where posers are generating news out of fear. Think about how an Extreme Leader could turn the situation around.
  2. Read the emails in your own inbox. How many of those emails are being driven by love vs. fear? How would an Extreme Leader respond to those emails?
  3. Think about YOUR daily interactions with friends, colleagues, and family. How often do YOU operate out of a base of fear instead of love? Are YOU the poser? (Wow, that's a tough one. The WORST poser is the one we see in the mirror.)

If the way things currently operate fatigue you, maybe it's time to take up Extreme Leadership. I'm leading a full-day workshop at Drake University next Friday. Space is very limited, but there are still spots left. Click here for more information and registration.

Hope to see you there!


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Madeleine McGrath

"As a consultant, it's not hard to find posers in the workplace."

Sadly, Timothy, a lot of people I come across in the workplace say the same about consultants. Such charlatans and fakes do our profession a disservice and make it hard for anyone following them into an organisation;-)

Timothy Johnson

Very true, Madeleine. My point was not that consultants are above the poser fray; rather, that as a consultant, I'm exposed to more companies with greater frequency, so I get to see more people (on the spectrum of poser to leader) than the average "static employee."

Certainly, some of the worst benchmarks of being a poser are from our own consulting ranks, and they do make it difficult for the honest consultants out there. Thank you for prompting me for the clarification.

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