In the movies, the positional leader is the clueless guy who follows all the rules, plays it by the book, but can’t get the job done. He’s the old-timer sheriff, general, or coach who can only see things one way. He is the comic foil and anti-hero to the Tom Cruise/Clint Eastwood renegade.
In our practice, we meet many people who lead because of the title they’ve waited and manoeuvred for. Those who have a position, but don’t lead from there. It may be true that they seek power for the sake of power.
Never trust authority because of a title on a business card. This isn’t to say you should be disrespectful, or imagine yourself to be superior; but rather to stay true to your vision and purpose. Continue to see yourself in service of team, project, customer or company. You may not be the boss, but you can inspire and lead from wherever you are. Become the person others will want to follow by serving your team. And by serving your team, you will be helping positional leaders, for better or for worse.
The point is not to disobey, outsmart, our usurp ‘the boss’. What you’re aiming for is either to make them successful by bringing your own passion and mission to the team, or at very least to minimize the negative impact that a truly position-only leader has on your team’s success. Put another way, like a badass, you’re gonna keep on keepin’ on. Because you were put here to make a difference, and you’re not leaving until you’re done making it.