The Unseen Lever of Success: Your Identity

The most potent yet overlooked lever of success lies in the conscious realization and cultivation of two fundamental identities: the individual and the collective.

The first dimension is your individual identity, which every leader must delve into deeply, asking:

  • Who do I believe I am?
  • Who must I come to think of myself as in order to lead exceptionally well at my level, the next level, and at this time in the history of our company and the world?

The second dimension extends to the collective identity of the organization, where a leader, particularly in roles such as a CEO or executive, must foster a shared vision and understanding by asking:

  • Who are we as a team or organization?
  • What is our current collective belief about who we are?
  • Who do we need to believe we are to reach our growth and next-level goals?

An illustration of this identity work can be seen in the leadership of Lou Gerstner Jr., the Chairman and CEO of IBM from 1993 to 2002. Under his guidance, IBM underwent a monumental shift in identity. Gerstner Jr. challenged the existing belief that IBM was merely a computer parts company, steering it to embrace a new identity as “a services company that, by the way, just happens to have some computer parts.” This shift in perception, fueled by a redefined collective identity, was a cornerstone in IBM’s journey to resurgence and success.

To lead well, it is imperative to make these dual dimensions of identity conscious.

By fostering a deep understanding of these dual identities, leaders pave the way for a culture of self-aware and visionary individuals, creating the future they expect to find.

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About the Author

Susanne Biro is a coach to C-suite and executive level leaders. She is the founder of Inner Life Leadership, an app for business professionals who want to reach an unprecedented level of personal understanding and corresponding leadership (and life) success. Susanne is an author, executive development program designer, facilitator, Forbes & CEO Magazine contributing writer, and a TEDx and keynote speaker.

For over two decades, Susanne has worked internationally with senior-level leaders in some of the world’s best companies. Whether coaching one-on-one or authoring, designing, and delivering leadership programs, her passion is the same: to help leaders reach their next level.

Susanne can be reached at 604.864.5408 or via email at


Our world has changed, rapidly and in unexpected ways. As the crisis hit, I offered and held pro bono sessions with leaders from around the world. And I want to continue to do what I can to help. As a result, I now offer hourly sessions to ensure leaders everywhere can quickly get the perspective, clarity and focus they need to lead themselves, and therefore others, well during these challenging and uncertain times.

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