The best of leaders in the most desirable companies aren't characters in some rose-colored Hollywood script. In these turbulent times, they are real humans beings with a wholehearted commitment to their people.

To know whether you fit the bill of a leader, ask yourself three simple questions:

1. Am I communicating well?

Communication, whether interpersonal or organizational, is a necessity for success. In this day and age of corporate scandals and controversies, how leaders communicate with and to others can make or break a business.

Author and leadership guru Brian Tracy says, "Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85 percent of your success in your business and in your life." 

When people ask me, "What's the secret to great communication?" my response can seem counterintuitive: "Be radically transparent."

When a leader displays transparency, team members know exactly how they're doing and where they stand with performance. It's a leadership strength that helps build a foundation of trust.

The key is for information to flow freely and quickly both ways, so that expectations are mutually clear and consistent and everyone is on the same page. This eliminates confusion, ambiguity, suspicion, and the element of an unpleasant surprise.

2. Am I being optimistic in the face of uncertainty?

With unprecedented events comes the opportunity to show unprecedented optimism. Show it by being that beacon of light piercing the dark, by lifting people up and encouraging those in distress.

Be the person who shows gratitude in tough times for the things you have--like access to instant information to make the right decisions.

Be the person who praises the efforts of courageous and resilient colleagues who are being productive and making work happen under extreme adversity. 

Be the person who shows optimism by taking responsibility for your actions and finding solutions to problems. By doing so, you are helping yourself and others. 

3. Am I providing guidance and direction?

When the future is uncertain, many employees will look to their leaders for reassurance and direction--even though they might not have all the answers. As a leader, it's OK to confidently express your own doubt or uncertainty while maintaining your authority.

As you assess where people are in the crisis, ask simple questions to address any of their concerns first. This places confidence in their eyes that you have their best interests in mind. For example: 

  • What do you need an immediate answer to?
  • Where can I focus my efforts and attention to better support you right now?
  • What's in the way of you achieving your goals right now?

The quicker you find out their challenges and roadblocks, the more likely you'll be able to calm them down. Make sure to stay informed and communicate frequently, even if you don't have news to report, because, as they say, "no news is good news." And always follow up on an issue to keep the tribe assured that you're in action mode.