Are We Quintessential Leader Pretenders?

Posted: October 7, 2015 in Quintessential Leadership
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unimitable unquintessential leadershipThe lack of a synchronized life of imitable authenticity among humans – and people in leadership positions – in what they say, who they are, and how they conduct every part of their lives is bemoaned almost constantly.

The reality is that what we do observe is an abundance of synchronized lives of not-to-be-imitated authenticity, more so now than ever before. 

We now live in a society where being fundamentally selfish, self-centered, and driven by power and greed – something often hidden or obscured from public view in times past – has become not only visible, but accepted, expected, and applauded. 

While some people in leadership positions posture with a public face of integrity, honesty, selflessness, transparency, and altruism with their words when their actions are the exact opposite (these are the ones who cause the bemoaning), most people in leadership positions now don’t try to hide how nefarious they are as people and in their leadership positions.

Bullying, cheating, one-upping, fighting, lying, treating people abominably, being perpetually profane and denigrating, and overall defective character among people in leadership positions is now considered admirable and the mark of strong leadership.

Are we who say we are striving to be quintessential leaders different? We should be. Increasingly, though, it seems that although we say we are different, in fact everything else about us says that we are less different that we purport to be.

Are we who say we're quintessential leaders in fact hypocrites?In other words, we are hypocrites, saying one thing about ourselves while the rest of our lives says the exact opposite. It seems that we have gotten comfortable lying to ourselves – and others – about ourselves.

When we live (and believe) a lie – saying one thing and doing and being something completely different – we are not quintessential leaders, but instead we are destroyers.

Most importantly, we destroy trust. With trust, we destroy credibility. When we lose trust and credibility, we destroy our teams. In every part of our lives.

Oh yes, the people around us may do – or pretend to do – what we tell them to, but it is not out of trust and respect.

For a few – and it’s a small few – of our teams, the reason is fear.

For most of our teams, though, it is a stopgap measure until – and they are scrambling to find the fastest exit – they can get as far away from us as possible. 

If we’re losing our teams in droves, as quintessential leaders (this implies we care and we don’t want to lose them – no effort means we were lying about being quintessential leaders to begin with) we need to ask ourselves the following questions.

Do we want to inspire fear in our teams? Do we want to threaten and coerce our teams into doing whatever we want or else? Do we want our communication to be profane, denigrating, disrespectful, and dismissive?

Are we willing to cheat – the end justifies the means – anywhere and everywhere in our lives to get what we want and/or to get ahead? Are we willing to throw other people under the bus to make ourselves look good? Are we willing to be dishonest (lying, stealing, faking) to either avoid consequences or to get more for ourselves?

Do we care about our teams or are they just expendable commodities that we use, abuse, and then throw away when we can’t use and abuse them anymore? Are we sycophants with people we see as useful or important and tyrants with everyone else?

Who are we really? Do we know? Do we care? Does it matter?

The people we are best at fooling are ourselves. Most of us, even those of us who are striving to be quintessential leaders, are not aware of the depth of our self-deception about who and what we really are on the inside.

Where are the disconnects in our lives?Today, I challenge each of us to take stock of ourselves, of our lives, and of the disconnects we make between what we say we are and what we actually are.

We all have disconnects in our lives. Quintessential leaders acknowledge that, become aware of theirs, and undertake the process of doing something about it.

That’s imitable authenticity and that is a repeatable step (we can’t do it once and believe we’re done – it must be a daily part of our lives) that will lead to a synchronized life that sets a positive, realistic, and credible example to all the teams in our lives.

Anything less is unacceptable for quintessential leaders.

How are we doing? 

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