It’s not about you (and no one cares)


It’s harsh. It’s humbling. Oh, and btw – it’s true. 

Becoming a leader really isn’t about you.


Sorry (not sorry). 

The truth is, leadership is about your team and taking them somewhere they want to go. If you’re a leader who’s all about numero uno, you could be in for a lonely old time. 

At best, people will roll their eyes behind your back 🙄. At worst, they simply won’t join you on the journey

So, how do you take yourself out of the limelight, give others a chance to shine and lead them down the right path? 

It’s all in the telling

You need to create a story about the future. One that’s inspiring, crystal clear and roomy enough for other characters.

Jon Osborne, our go-to people and leadership expert, gave us his take on storytelling (without the ego) in Part 3 of our New Leaders podcast series. His interesting insights will give you everything you need to create your own engaging story that’s uniquely yours – but still keeps your team centrestage. 

Your leadership story

Everyone has a story. The trick with leadership is creating a story other people want to be part of.

“The key thing here is how do you, as a leader, tell a story which has relevance to your audience?” asks Jon. “The key to relevance, of course, is talking about something people care about.”

So, where do you even start with that? According to Jon, there are 3 questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your story about leadership? 

Heads up: it’s self-examination time! You won’t get far if you try to be someone else (with someone else’s story). Do you need to have all the answers? Are you only about you and your development? Is your focus on serving other people? 

Once you’ve (truthfully) answered those questions, you’ll have a starting point. Keep it simple and go from there.

  • Is your story getting the right results?

“If there’s a big mismatch between how you’re perceived by other people and how you want to be perceived, that’s probably a good indication that maybe there are some things in your story that don’t land for other people, or don’t quite resonate,” offers Jon.

Don’t stress if you need to rework a few bits – no one ever submits their first draft!

  • Do I need to redesign my story?

Story not quite right? Not a big deal. Have some frank conversations with people around you, get their feedback and consider what’s missing.

It’s your story to devise, develop and deliver.

Every story has a hero (and a mentor)

If we think about a story, they usually consist of:

🦸‍♀️ A main character (our ‘hero’)

🧑‍🏫 A secondary character (the ‘mentor’)

😰 A challenge to overcome (both external and internal)

😊 The happy ending (cue the tear-jerking tunes).

Of course, life is never that straightforward. And while that formula works for Hollywood, it doesn’t usually play out like that in the workplace (or anywhere other than a movie set 🎬).

“If your leadership’s all about you, I think your actual challenge is that people may not really care,” Jon says. 

But what if we look at the ‘mentor’ in the story and their relationship with the hero? That’s the angle Jon wants us to consider.

“If the people I’m serving, if my team or even my boss is the hero, then how am I the mentor? How am I helping them achieve their mission? You can tell the story you want and you can live the story you want.”

So long as it’s not all about you.

From me to we

Yep. Telling your leadership story means making the shift from the ‘me space’ to the ‘we space’. Your job now is to take a confident, powerful step into the ‘we space’ where you essentially make your team the heroes of the story. 

Recognise their differences, truly get to know them and be their platform to greater things. 

Like we’ve said (ad nauseam, we get it), it’s not about you.


Being authentic

We all love the idea of authenticity. But what does it mean in the workplace and, more importantly, as a new leader?

“Authenticity is always a good place to be as a leader,” Jon tells us. “But you don’t just tell a story [about it]; you create a plan and make it clear what people need to do.”

Because leadership is more than simply laying your soul bare to those around you. Tell it how it is, sure, but separate yourself from the story somewhat and – crucially – empower people to take action.

The one thing that distinguishes a mentor from a hero? The mentor demonstrates empathy and authority. 

Be honest, open and upfront. But remember to also give people a purpose to work for and plan to get there

How could I be wrong?

We’ve touched on the new leader mentality of ‘I need to know everything about everything’ in other blogs. Consider this your reminder to let that go!

Jon says if you find yourself defaulting back to the ‘Oh, I  know the answer, I’m going to jump in and take control’ mode, it’s time to step back and ask a few questions:

  • How could my interpretation be wrong here?
  • How am I reading this situation wrong?
  • Are we approaching this wrong?

Switch on your growth mindset, keep asking questions and be open to feedback. You’ll learn WAY more (faster), connect better and genuinely earn your team’s respect. 

The world doesn’t need another David Brent.


Stepping away from the spotlight

Your leadership story is all yours. But the journey is not (oh, and did we mention it’s not about you? 😉)

Rather, it’s your moment to be your team’s trusted mentor – to focus on them, give them the guidance they need and make them the heroes of your story

“Many [people] who are new to leadership roles think it’s all about them,” Jon concludes. “If you’re a leader and you’re consumed with self-interest, then why would you expect anyone else to want to follow you?”

Building on that muscle of playing in the ‘we space’, asking the right questions and being aware of your own limitations will make you a stronger, more empathetic leader who gets the most from your team. Want more info, insights and intel on  new leadership? Check out our podcast series here!

Latest articles, podcasts & resources

The Power of Self-Reflection – How to get ready for 2024

Well, wasn’t that another wild ride! As 2023 comes to a close and we turn our attention to.

Developing Effective Performance Reviews for a Hybrid Workforce – Key Event Takeaways

Strivin and HiBob have joined forces once again to bring you a series of insightful events to help.

Strivin & Thrivin EP1. Samantha George & Lee Shorter – How To Build An Award-Winning Recruitment Team

In the latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we got to do things a little differently..

Networking: What you’re missing out on by not getting out there.

We’ve all been there, in a crowded room of other professionals, probably feeling self-conscious, nervous or just bored..

Coaching 101 – What is coaching and why do we need it?

What do you think of when you hear the word coaching?  It might conjure visions of those persistent.

Strivin & Thrivin EP63. Brooke Tierney – Dad Knows Best

In the latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we catch up with Brooke Tierney, Founder and.

Strivin & Thrivin EP64. Alex Lennon – Head of Talent

Strivin and Thrivin is the career development podcast inspiring you to make some bold changes. Each week, we.

The Art of Feedback – How to make the conversation a two-way street

What’s the best thing you can give your team?  They would probably say more money and more holidays,.

Strivin & Thrivin EP61. Chloe Spillane – Talent Acquisition Leader & Career Coach

This week on the Strivin and Thrivin podcast, we chat with Chloe Spillane, Founder of Chloe Spillane Consulting,.

Strivin & Thrivin EP62. Genevieve Gorin – People & Culture

For the latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we had a chat with Genevieve Gorin, People.

Eat, Sleep, Check on Your Mental Health

While there certainly weren’t many positives to come out of Covid, one thing we did see was an.

Strivin & Thrivin EP60. Jessica Gibson-Jones – Head of Talent Acquisition & Sourcing

In the latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast, we sat down for a chat with Jessica.

Strivin & Thrivin EP.59. Samuel Williamson – Master of MySpace & Marketing

Strivin and Thrivin is the career development podcast inspiring you to make some bold changes. Each week, we.

Strivin & Thrivin EP58. Samantha George – Advertising to Recruitment

In our latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we talked with Samantha George, Principal Recruitment Consultant.

Strivin & Thrivin EP57. Sam Garven – A non conventional path to people & culture

In our latest episode of the Strivin & Thrivin podcast we got the chance to sit down and.