If you find yourself in the position of inquiring "Where do I stand as a leader?" at some point you must face some harsh truths to measure yourself against the high bar of leadership.

What it takes to motivate and inspire people requires a better understanding of how people are wired on a human, emotional, and psychological level. To better grasp that understanding, here are four non-negotiable truths to shoot for in your development as a leader:

Truth No. 1: Good leadership doesn't happen without trust.

Every leader needs to ask a very important, look-in-the-mirror question: "Does my behavior increase trust?" If you are considering elevating your leadership skills, trust is a pillar your leadership should stand on. And trust cannot happen without these building blocks:

  • Modeling transparency

  • Practicing accountability
  • Talking straight/being truthful
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Making things right

Truth No. 2: Good leaders serve the needs of others.

The common leadership behaviors written about in some of the bestselling books originate from what is arguably the most successful leadership philosophy in the universe: Servant Leadership.

If you're new to the idea, servant leaders are people-centric, not egocentric. Their winning formula is to serve by shining the spotlight on others.

The Washington Post says servant leaders have "high emotional engagement, loyalty, and productivity, and outperform the competition daily."

This is not soft-skills, pushover nonsense; servant leaders command a much higher level of trust from their tribe, and over time are much more successful.

Today, scores of successful companies embrace the practice of servant leadership, including some that have made Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For over the years, like TDIndustries, who is led by a true servant leader CEO--Harold MacDowell.

Truth No. 3: Good leaders "remove the mask."

Leadership seems to come naturally to some, though it may come at a price. You first need to grow up. So declares venture-capitalist-turned-leadership-coach Jerry Colonna, the "CEO Whisperer" I recently interviewed on my podcast who's known to make founders and CEOs cry by asking tough personal questions. 

In his new book, Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up, Colonna explains the value--and challenges--of self-inquiry, and says a key step to more effective leadership is to remove the masks.

He says, "We are master self-deceivers. Most of us start lying to ourselves when we begin lying to others. We wear masks that we want other people to see and attempt to hide away the real parts of ourselves. Self-deception is a form of survival that serves no beneficial purpose. If you want to lead, you have to remove the mask."

Truth No. 4: Good leaders set their people up for success.

"What do you need from me?"  That is the most important question a leader can ask, and an essential one to engage employees. 

Calvin G. Butler, Jr., CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric, is a model example of this philosophy. He says, "As a leader, I set the strategy, select the best talent, and then empower them to do their jobs--and to do them well."

Butler focuses on three critical things along the way: 1) his people's development, 2) their accountability to achieve success, 3) and eliminating roadblocks that interfere with their and the company's success.

Published on: Sep 16, 2019
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