“Perception is reality”. Lee Atwater
Sometimes I wish perception wasn’t reality and I could just say what I wanted to say and do as I felt like without others judging me. And without legal ramifications! If only life was so simple.
I was speaking with a gentleman; let’s call him Sam, the other day about this exact thing. He has the title of a leader and gets really frustrated because he’s not perceived as a leader. Undoubtedly he has the skill, experience and knowledge to justify his elevation in the business. However, his ‘leadership style’ is questionable.
Sam doesn’t believe he should have to be any different to what he really is. So when he’s angry he shows it, when he’s feeling blue, he sulks, when he’s happy he’s engaging and when he’s frustrated he let’s everyone know what they are doing wrong and doesn’t mix his words. In his mind, this is being authentic to his true self. And perhaps it is.
In leadership terms this won’t win you any followers. This isn’t inspiring, empowering or influential in any way. And this isn’t working for Sam.
We talk a lot about authentic leadership and it’s fast becoming the new catch cry of the 2010’s. There is no doubt the world is craving it. There is no doubt we need it. But what happens when being your ‘authentic’ true self isn’t conducive to leadership in the true sense of the word?
There are many instances, particularly in the corporate world, where I have seen people promoted to leadership positions based on longevity in the business or because they are a subject matter expert. Unfortunately, there is no consideration given to the leadership qualities and behaviours, or lack of, of these individuals. The result? A team of disengaged and unhappy people looking to move on as quickly as they can. If you want to dismantle a high performing business, simply promote on longevity or results with no focus on behaviour.
If we are to build and sustain a high performing business, we must focus more on the behaviors’ of individuals. We need to ensure where we are empowering an individual to lead a team they can do just that. Lead. That they have the leadership qualities to support leading. Just because someone is great at sales or fantastic at production doesn’t mean they will make a great leader.
With competitors hot on your heels and an engaged and committed workforce being the power of your business, the focus must be on leadership, growing great leaders and being a leader yourself.
Behaviour and attitude is king. Skill is secondary and can be taught. As leaders we must be able to communicate, influence, engage and positively influence an audience and take them on the journey we need to take them on. We must also be conscious and considered leaders. That’s authentic leadership.