Leadership has never been more important than it is today. Whether you are a political, business, non-profit or faith-based leader the pressure is on and failure is not an option. You’ve heard it said that it is lonely at the top…well for many it is even lonelier now.
Leaders are always confronted with challenges and must often make difficult decisions, however; during times of strong economic growth, leaders can make many mistakes and still get bailed out by the market. In difficult times, as we are now experiencing, each mistake becomes magnified and leaders get scrutinized under white-hot lights. Unfortunately, some in leadership positions who happily took credit for successes in good times are playing the blame game now that fortunes have turned. In some cases, managers (those who manage process) have been given lofty titles that indicate leadership, but have never been properly prepared to lead. When the process no longer works as designed, failure lurks.
We cannot merely assume that one with the appropriate title is the most effective leader. As John C. Maxwell so eloquently stated in his The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “the true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Real influence can be best achieved by practicing authentic leadership. Authentic leaders impact and influence others by casting a bold vision, by surrounding themselves with capable independent thinkers, by preparing future leaders and by living a life of sacrifice. Authentic leaders are not preoccupied with perks, status and golden parachutes. Sure, pretenders come and go…and make headlines in the process, but they do go.
There has never been a more appropriate time to exercise authentic leadership. People want to be a part of a movement greater than themselves. Every organization needs a strong leader…one leading a movement to achieve greatness. What is your bold vision? Who do you need on your team? Who are your mentors? Are you grooming the next generation of leaders? Will your followers follow you in times of sacrifice and want? It will take authentic leadership to move our economy and nation forward. I’m placing my bet that authentic leadership will show up.