Develop traits over skills
Today, our world is filled with skeptics. People are simply jaded,
and why shouldn't they be? Over the past 50 years we've lived through
disgraced world leaders, dubious armed conflicts, pilfered pensions, and
'new and improved' products and services that are clearly neither new
We live in a world where much of what comes at us from organisations
is spin, propaganda, and distorted half-truths. It should be obvious to
any twenty-first-century leader that many people are reluctant to
What we long for is authenticity. We want leaders who speak plainly
and from the heart, not from talking points. We want bosses who reject
corporate mumbo jumbo. We want professionals who don't cloak themselves
in a blanket of buzz-speak. Growth leaders are distinctive not only in
their actions, but also in their attributes. These specific attributes
are more like personality traits than true management skills, and they
ultimately build trust.
The obvious has no place in the world anymore.
Facing reality isn't merely a good idea; it's a leadership
imperative. Your organisation depends on someone to challenge the
organisation's most closely held beliefs today. 'Our product is the
best'. 'Our team is superior'. 'Our customers love us'. 'Our cause is
more important than any other'. Really?
Let's drop the empty slogans, take down the banners, and throwaway
the T-shirts. Today, it takes a pragmatic realist to separate the true
picture from the conventional group-think. Look for innovative ways of
proving yourself in the eyes of customers.
Most growth leaders are a natural at skills of this sort. Others need
to regularly extricate themselves from day-to-day activities to work on
these leadership skills. Either way, being sensitive is a skill that
gives leaders another arrow in their organisational growth quiver.
Most of the great corporate and political scandals of the modern age
have had more to do with cover-ups than with the original act of
In contrast, people and organisations that are transparent in their
actions, consistently grow and come out ahead in the long run. Those who
are forthcoming with information - good and bad - can more effectively
lead a team to accomplish great things.
An organisation itself can and should be transparent, but to be so,
it needs leaders who are transparent in their actions.
Employees, customers, vendors, and shareholders know what to expect
from transparent leaders. Fostering transparency takes commitment and
confidence. It can be tempting to hide problems, but the transparent
leader knows that the truth eventually slips out anyway - and often
looks worse than it did originally. As an ancient Eastern adage says,
"Three things cannot be hidden forever: the sun, the moon, and truth".
To lead, it is critical to master authenticity. Reject the tired
clichés, lose the latest buzzwords, and say what you mean and mean what
you say. Know what you do and do what you know and do it the right way.