My or Our: How do you lead?

15.10.22 06:47 PM By Randy


I listen a lot to leaders. I am always curious about how they use the terminology for possession. For example, when and why do they use the word my or other personal possessive words versus a community possessive word like ours

When I overly hear leaders using the word my, it makes me picture a rocket—a singular unit, ready for flight. In and of itself, unable to get anywhere, but with a team of people: it will indeed take flight, and it will be glorious. 

When I hear leaders use the word our, I picture an army. A group, a team of individuals, making up a body. It's a picture of the Power Rangers. They are always getting their ass kicked until they all come together in their strange giant robot.

To the my leader,

I would start to go internal and examine why you claim everything. And there is no judgment. But I would be a bigger jerk not to tell you: the more you use the word my, the more narcissistic your leadership will become. I know because I was that leader. And I played the role well. I did build things with my own two hands. I was the one who pushed, prodded, and raised the people around me. And at the end of the day, it's because it was my gift to help people meet potential. A kid on Christmas day selfishly holding his gift and not sharing is a pretty gnarly thing. We have all been to those family events: watching that fire burn down the joy. So your gift, though it is yours, is a shared opportunity for growth. What you create with that gift is the space for community, relationships, and freedom. Know and believe that. Be proud of your my. But change your mind to reflect we.

To the our leader,

First, stop giving credit to everyone. Not everyone deserves credit. Not everyone deserves the chance. Your head is generally in the right place with using the community verbiage. But your leadership deserves accolades too. Own that in a way that keeps you humble. How? Show gratitude more than you give credit. Too often the our leader will forsake the growth of what they are championing to maintain the appearance of selfless leadership. Forsaking what you know is necessary to maintain appearance is a trauma response, and you need to heal that. If not, you will become a character disorder leader. I know because that has been my most recent journey.

The balance:

  1. Be about words that give gratitude.
  2. Be about actions that build relationships.
  3. Give credit where credit is do, and own what you need to own.
  4. Don't own what you don't need to own, and stop giving credit to try and raise someone who doesn't deserve the credit.

Leadership is hard. But it's good. Have people who can check you. And if you are a leader: have a therapist. 

—Your Friend, Randy