Big Top Leadership

When your leadership is just a show, don’t be surprised when the circus breaks out under your organizational big top.

A sublime home-cooked meal, a beautifully hand-crafted piece of furniture, an exquisite work of art, or even a deeply moving piece of writing…

Each connects to us, in its own wonderful way.  Authentic and real.  

One of the things that we notice in life is when we come in contact with something or someone that is truly authentic.  We can’t always put our finger on it, why we know it, but we know it.  We sense it, we feel it, we connect to that authenticity, we find ourselves drawn to it.

Not only are we drawn to it, we look for ways to be around it, connect to it, engage with it.  We are attracted to its realness, the raw sense of genuineness that flows from it, like a mighty gravitational pull drawing us into its orbit.

And in the same manner, we are very attuned when something or someone lacks that same authenticity.

When that sense of “real” genuine honesty is missing, it’s noticeable.

Especially in leaders…

That same gnawing, deep down sense of authenticity that we recognize in the world around us, moves easily to the leaders we connect and interact with in our daily life.  We can’t see it necessarily, as much as we can sense it in them.  As if it emanates from the very depths of their soul.  You sense and feel that genuine sense of honesty, of authenticity.  And it draws you to them.

To their vision, to the work they are doing, to the goals they are trying to accomplish.  You want to be part of it because you know it is honest and real, it has value and depth.

Unfortunately there are just as many things in this world that lack authenticity, including leaders.

And when leaders lack authenticity, when they lack honesty and sincerity in what they do and what they say, their leadership becomes an act.

A show…

Leaders who lack authenticity are like the ringleader of their own organizational circus, constantly putting on a show for their constituents and their people.  Allowing their very leadership to serve as the stage to act out the role, and the better the act becomes the less “real” and authentic we find their leadership to be.

For lack of belief, the inauthentic leader often spends more time acting at getting others to believe in the work, then actually creating a vision that they believe in themselves. 

And while others in the organization will play along for awhile, most can see through the front and the facade, they see it for the smoke and mirrors that it really is.  Trust erodes and eventually dissipates across the organization.

When a leader lacks authenticity in what they are doing, in what they are saying, in the vision they are emoting, then the organization and those within lose faith.  They fail to invest, and much like the leader, begin to act at the vision.

Eventually the organization as a whole becomes a show, an organizational circus.  Everyone a performer under the big top.  Pomp and circumstance become top billing over any real goals to be accomplished.

And like any circus, we become its company of performers, waiting for our leadership ringmaster to give us the cue.  Leadership erodes into management, inherently void of any real depth.  Which eventually turns into chaos under the big top, as the lack of authenticity, in the leadership, in the vision, in what is trying to be accomplished deteriorates and all signs of trust are finally vanquished.

Which is why no circus or ringleader stays in any one town or city for more than a short while…

For once everyone has seen the show, there is not much else to see.


1 thought on “Big Top Leadership

  1. Thank you so much for your post! It really spoke to me at this time in my life. Unfortunately sometimes when the power is not checked the circus leader carries on and the big top begins to show its age. People stop coming to the circus unless they have too. Then a new leader comes in to train, and the ringmaster won’t give up and the lions doesn’t end well. The ringmaster carries on while the other acts continue to perform hoping the lions don’t attack again.

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