In today’s culture it’s easy to believe that leaders “stand out” based on external or easily observed qualities.
It may be their physical presence or command of a room as they speak. It may be the way that they always seem to be “in control” no matter what the situation.
Over the next several weeks, I’d like to share a few “hidden qualities” of exceptional leaders that I have observed over the years. These are character traits or sometimes skills that have been developed or refined through years of pursuing the uncommon pathway to excellence.
The first hidden quality is that of authenticity. If there’s one characteristic that is demanded by next generation leaders and appreciated by every segment of leaders its authenticity.
The digital age in which we find ourselves makes it very easy to become somebody else, someone who you’re not. Facebook and Twitter and numerous other social media outlets give us a platform to create a persona that is not who we really are.
I have found that people seem to respond more effusively to blog posts and messages that reveal my struggles and difficulties more than they do my occasional victories and words of wisdom. People are drawn to leaders who are willing to reveal the bumps and bruises of their journey because it assures them that they, too, can find the grace of God.
Of course, to be authentic you need to be truly self-aware. Sadly, some of us are leading without anyone to give us honest feedback about who we are and the way we are being perceived.
A good place to begin is to practice the art of “story telling” in communicating with others rather than always having to be the master of the “how to’s.” People relate to these simple mechanisms because it gives a more complete picture of what really happened along the way.
Authenticity is the currency of exceptional leadership. There’s no room for ‘fakes’ in today’s “I can find out everything about you” world.
You may as well embrace that reality and begin to seize the benefit of it in your leadership.