I recently read this concept shared by Bob Burg: if you become overly inflated or think of yourself as a big deal, you lose the capacity to positively influence those around you. Instead of fixing on yourself as “the leader”, Burg suggests that leaders reframe their role as “humble trustee.” We’re simply trustees of the business, of the people we get to serve for a while… and of the consumers or guests we hope to delight. Why’s this an important concept? Because once you think you’re the DEAL, you lose the ability to LEAD.

You think you’re the DEAL? But we only hold “rented titles”

Recently sharing a stage with the inimitable Marchoe Northern, I was deeply impacted when she said: “I hold a number of rented titles.” Wow. Instead of allowing big words like CEO or Director to define us, we can recognize that these are merely rented titles. This mindset helps us focus on others more, and ourselves less.

Marchoe Northern rented titles DEAL and LEAD

It’s true, our titles are temporary. Why? Because in the future, someone else will hold the same title. 

So if these titles don’t define my identify and if they’re temporary, what’s permanent about who I am?  

To LEAD, consider your “permanent titles”

We each hold permanent titles, too. For me, biology dictates the titles of Mother, Sister and Daughter. Life choices have led to Wife and Friend. And personally, my values lead me to embrace Contributor, Teacher, and Coach. Each of us holds permanent titles… and these are deeply impactful, cherished roles! On my deathbed, will I think back on those moments when I was a Director or a Mother?

What are your rented and permanent titles?

These words matter because remember: The DEAL loses the ability to LEAD. Recognizing what’s temporary vs. what’s permanent instills a sense of self, and enables us to live and lead with humility and grace.

For a related article, check out my blog and podcast around Leadership and Loyalty