Polished vs. Authentic

I had coffee with a young emerging leader this week. She is learning leadership by the bootstraps (the best way in my opinion). During our conversation she said, “sometimes leaders can be too polished.” We went on to discuss how leaders that are too polished want to make leadership look good. They want to say the right things and make leading look gorgeous and important. But in reality, the best leaders to learn from and to work for are more authentic than polished. (more…)

I recently interviewed a young woman for a job opening. While I liked her, I felt like I wasn’t connecting with her. It seemed like she was hiding behind a false sense of confidence and answers she thought I’d find impressive. So, I decided to get real with her.

“I can’t figure you out,” I said, to which she immediately responded, “Well, I’m scared to death and I’m intimidated!”

My reply might sound like something your mother might tell you. I told her that she should stop trying to interview as if she were someone else. She needed to be herself. I wasn’t trying to understand her skills; I can teach her how to do the job. I was trying to find out who she was as a person because I’m trying to find the right person to join our team.

This interaction reminded me of the importance of being authentic. (more…)

While watching a high school basketball game this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see an incorrect call reversed. One referee made the original call but after huddling with the other two refs he reversed his decision. As spectators, many of us were pleased with the corrected call and reinforced it by applauding and cheering instead of yelling the usual, “bad call ref!”

What if it was acceptable to do the same thing in your organization? Don’t you sometimes wish you could shout out your displeasure at the office when you see a bad call or bad decision being made? What would happen if you shouted, “bad call leader?”

While that certainly isn’t acceptable, what is acceptable, is for a leader to adjust his “call” when he or she finds it necessary to do so. Changing or adjusting decisions is not a sign of weak leadership. In fact, it’s just the opposite! A confident and self-assured leader will adjust, tweak or change decisions if they find them to be wrong or inappropriate for the conditions.

Leaders, there is nothing more frustrating to your team than for you to cover up bad decisions. You need to own them and fix them. Just like the referee did.

Team, there is nothing more frustrating to your leader than for you to cover up bad decisions. You need to own them and fix them. Just like the referee did. (Humm, do I hear an echo?)

You see, we all make mistakes from time to time and leaders are not immune. But should leaders admit when they’ve made a poor decision or acted wrong? Do we need to apologize or should we just let it blow over?