“I Am My Position” – Learning Disability of Organizations

When we formed Gellman, Hayward & Partners, it was the first time I had my name on the letterhead.  My dilemma was "Am I the fellow on the letterhead or me?"  For some time I found the question quite distracting, and certainly not helpful. 

Peter Senge in "The Fifth Discipline" talks about this dilemma as one of the learning disabilities of organizations.  I was trying to behave as I thought a Partner in a consulting firm should behave as opposed to being myself.  I suspect many people who become CEO or President try to act as they think a person in that position should act as opposed to bringing themselves to the job.

People often define themselves in a even more limiting way by thinking "I am just a programmer."   

People who find themselves out of work will resist retraining because for their whole career they have defined themselves in a specific role.   These days changing jobs and specialties is very common and we all must be careful not to define who we are in a limiting way.   

A friend of mine was taking on a role on a project as a planner.  His previous roles had been the fellow in charge.  He was finding it difficult to adapt to the new role because he had defined himself as the fellow in charge.  I encouraged him to set as his objective as getting things done as opposed to taking charge or credit.

I suggest you look at yourself and your organization to see if you can see "I am my position" learning disabilities.  I bet you will see some.  I encourage to look beyond your position to the results you produced and your unique contribution.     

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