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Counterfeit Leadership

6 min read

Are You Up to the Job?

Real leaders set the tone from the top. They espouse a visible and meaningful vision that promises a better future than the prevailing conditions. The vision may be precise or vague, it may be a specific goal or a dream of a better future — but it must be attractive, realistic, and believable. A compelling vision provides direction, promotes excitement and inspires commitment.

Creating a vision, however, isn’t enough. The vision must be brought to life and rooted in the culture. Real leaders never miss an opportunity to lead by example, serving as positive role models and reinforcing the beliefs and values of the organization.

Real leaders achieve success by setting the bar high encouraging teamwork, promoting win-win relationships, and demanding everyone’s best effort. Real leaders win the support of their constituents by earning their trust and respect. This is achieved through powerful ideas, personal expertise, and impeccable integrity rather than through their position or by “pulling rank.”

Real leadership also means making hard choices, overcoming difficult challenges, and encouraging constituents to embrace change. Real leaders are not afraid to take a firm stance and accept responsibility for their decisions. In so doing, decisions are never made to win a popularity contest or to placate everyone by being all things to all people.

Precious resources are allocated in areas where they provide the greatest good while carefully balancing short-term performance with long-term success. And, while you may not always agree with a real leader’s decision, you’ll always know that every decision was made in an honest, fair, an objective fashion. You’ll never have to second-guess a real leader’s intent; you’ll know what he or she stands for.

All great leaders, whether in the public or private sector, make people feel proud of the institution they represent and realistic about the future. When a real leader promotes a common end, people begin to work as a team rather than at cross-purposes with one another. Self-interests wind up on the backburner, while individuals begin working together for a higher purpose — the common good. And that, my friend, is what real leadership is all about.

© 2011 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.

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