Choose your leaders carefully.
Wise words that we would all agree with, and yet how many of us get to know the obvious and not-so-obvious aspects of a leader – BEFORE we jump in and follow them?
The obvious aspects are those we can all see. Examples are their likeability, dressing, body language, and grooming. Also their tone of voice, leadership style, and their past performance.
Not so obvious aspects would mean those qualities and attributes that we cannot see without getting to know them personally or investigating with more discerning eyes. Usually, these aspects include their values, operating model, typical emotional state, beliefs, honesty, candor, ethics, and integrity.
Why are these not-so-obvious aspects so important? Because these are the qualities that are better predictors of future performance, behavior under stress, and most important of all… these are the aspects that we take on and duplicate from our leaders without evening realizing it!
If that doesn’t scare you – it should.
Let’s say you are an ethical person, and you pride yourself on your honesty, straightforwardness, and openness. You want to improve your relationship with money, so you look for a teacher to follow who appears to be world-renowned, well respected, and successful. If you take this at face value, you would conclude that this teacher is a good person to learn from, and you decide to follow them.
This teacher has a flexible relationship with the truth and believes that money should be prized and valued over all else. If they suggested you do outright unethical things, this would trigger your doubt, and you would see it immediately. Their public persona masks their true nature, and they have such a good act that most well-meaning people would not be able to see them easily or accurately.
Many of these people have well-crafted strategies to keep their real nature and intention a secret. They often engage in charity projects and donate publicly to needy causes. They will talk about doing the right thing and being a good person, while behind the scenes are doing exactly the opposite! We call this “public relations.”
Why does this matter to you so much? Because you will take on what they say, do, and believe unconsciously. These unconscious memes will become a part of your makeup, and you may compromise your standards little by little. You may also find that when you do what they say they have done, your results are different from theirs. Assuming you implement and execute exactly… it may not work for you because they didn’t do what they said they did!
This gap between what they say they did and reality can cause you to lose confidence in yourself and doubt your own abilities… when you should doubt them and their advice!
Train yourself to look for the obvious and not-so-obvious aspects of a leader. Tune into their feeling. Look for “bodies on the side of the road.” Ask questions and look for telltale signs of incongruence. The slicker they are, you must look deeper to determine fact from fiction.
Choose a worthy leader and be a worthy follower!
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Leadership Advocate and Co-Founder of the Goldzone Group. I help leaders to master the new rules of leadership for the new economy. Over the past 30 years, I have visited over 500 cities in 54 countries to explore, learn from, and help many of the world’s leading companies, leaders, and luminaries in the fields of science, technology, health, finance, entrepreneurship, and leadership.