Most, and yes I definitely mean most, most “leaders” I know are not leaders at all. They have a title or position that fools them, and a few others, into thinking they are a leader but upon a little examination they are not a leader at all.
While a leader in name only can fool some people into believing they are a leader they rarely if ever fool the people they think they are leading. People looking for Authentic Leadership can spot a fake leader from a mile away.
But here’s one of the things I find most interesting about leadership. Leaders in name only often have no idea that they aren’t really leading. Not only can they fool other people, they can even fool themselves.
So how can someone in a leadership position tell if they are in fact leading? Well take a look around. If no one is following you then you’re not leading. Period.
No matter how lofty your position or important sounding your title leaders lead people. If people are not following you then you may be managing a business but you’re not leading.
So let’s say you take a quick look over your shoulder and you see a bunch of people. Even that doesn’t mean you’re an Authentic Leader. Take a closer look. Who is following you? If the people “following” you all have the same favorite word then you may not be a leader. If that word is “yes” then you’re most certainly not a leader.
Authentic Leaders attract a higher caliber of people than leaders in name only. They are followed by people who are not afraid to speak truth to leadership. Authentic Leaders are a magnet for people with authentic leadership aspirations of their own.
Authentic Leaders challenge their followers to continuously improve and their followers challenge them back to do the same.
Authentic Leaders are also great followers. So consider for a moment who it is you’re following. Who do you know? I don’t mean following on Facebook or some other social media platform. I mean who do you really know? Who are your mentors? Who can you have a face to face conversation with? Who can you learn from? Who leads you? Who is pushing you to improve? Who is invested in helping you grow as a leader?
You can learn a lot in a book, blog, or video but leadership is a close personal contact operation. You need to follow and interact with real people who will help you grow. People who will tell you the truth about yourself and who will keep you on the path towards Authentic Leadership.
If you have short comings in any of those areas then you have opportunity to improve as a leader, or maybe, even become an Authentic Leader for the first time.
Either way, the self-improvement process for a leader begins with the question… Am I really leading?