Authentic Leadership

March 3, 2009

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.


Laid Off? Me? Now What?

January 12, 2009

My plan was to have this post be about starting a new business. That plan changed due to events that have occurred over the past week. As I charged out of the gate last Monday, I was certain that we were in store for a better year. I still feel that way; however, each and every day last week, I was contacted by friends and close acquaintances that had just lost jobs. While I do not pretend to have all the answers, I feel compelled to share what I know about the experience and offer some tactics for dealing with the situation.

First, breathe. Find a solitary place, close your eyes, clear your mind, tighten all your muscles, then release and take a deep breath. Now, keep your eyes closed and listen to yourself breathe… This is you. You have dealt with bigger problems. You have overcome greater odds. You are talented, hard-working, dedicated, experienced, and exude integrity. You will attack this challenge head-on, and as you do, you will take advantage of what you’ve learned about yourself, the gifts you have to offer and what the world desires.

Now, before you jump into the job search, take a little time for some self analysis:

1.       How is your faith? This is not a sermon and I am most assuredly not a pastor, but the question is important. What do you believe…and why do you believe? Is your faith stronger or weaker as a result of these circumstances? Take some time to reflect and, if need be, re-engage.

2.       How is your health? Had a physical lately? Exercise and eat right? Take this time to take better care of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The first wealth is health”.

3.       How is your mind? Read some great books lately? What are you hungry to know more about? This is your journey, your adventure, your rebirth.

4.       How is your family? Are you connected? Are you willing to make the first move?

5.       How are your friends? Are you willing to ask for their help? And offer help in return?

6.       Finally, who do you need to forgive? Your ex-boss? Family? Friends? Yourself? It is difficult to move forward in a positive way when you harbor anger or guilt. Deal with this now, make a clean break, and focus on your future.

If you pay careful attention to the six factors listed above, you will be in a better position, spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally to face the challenge ahead of you.

To development employment leads via networking:

·         Reconnect with colleagues, friends, family and others. Most of the people you know will genuinely want to help you succeed.

·         Take advantage of social media tools, such as LinkedIn, facebook, Twitter and others. The basic services are free and it’s easy to learn how to engage. Your results may surprise you.

·         Touch base with your local chamber of commerce, economic development office, college or university.

·         Join a service organization and/or volunteer with non-profit organizations. You can make a real difference in people’s lives. In addition, it will keep you grounded and will help you build your network.


·         Insulate yourself from others

·         Live in the past (learn from it and MOVE ON)

·         Watch TV News (narrow focus on negative events…the world is not that bad)

·         Eat, drink, or smoke too much (you’ll only add to the guilt)

Most of us want a new beginning, and now you have one. This is your challenge and your opportunity. I, along with many of your family members, friends and colleagues are rooting for you. You have what it takes. The world is a better place because of you. Thank you for all you have accomplished and for all you are about to accomplish.