If your raw thoughts and feelings literally scrolled across?a screen on?your forehead, what would it read?
Would it say, “I am so annoyed at you?right now!” Or, “What an idiot…” Or, “I can’t believe I ended up with this person.” As a leader, if your thoughts and feelings were displayed?on your forehead for all the world to read, would anyone follow you? Would you have any?real?friends? Would you be successful?
Regardless what you say, regardless how you smile or laugh, regardless what you do, people can sense what you really think. Even if no one?articulates it into exact words, in their hearts people?know how you really feel.
Being authentically beautiful is what draws people to you. And that simple truth, my friend, is the secret to leadership success.
A few years ago, I was talking to an impressively intelligent?doctor. I mean off the charts brilliant! He was arguing that he could do what needs to be done, and say what needs to be said, without revealing his true thoughts or feelings on any particular matter. He preferred to keep things private.?Not a bad argument, right? Many leaders choose not to be?an open book about everything inside.
The problem with his argument is his theory simply does not work. People can almost always sense how you really feel. They can at least tell there is something “not right,” and naturally know?you are not being fully transparent. You are hiding something.
But how can we be transparent if what we have inside is offensive, unattractive, or rotten??That’s why we must be authentically beautiful. There is no way to?truly and completely hide what is inside.?I find people who are transparent have worked to bring themselves to a place where others can peek inside and still like them.
This is what their transparency says: I am not hiding everything. I am comfortable with who I am, what I think, and how I feel. In fact I am so comfortable and confident about?what is inside, I am actually inviting you to see it.
Because after all, people will know anyway.
People?can detect a fake.
When I visited China three years ago I saw so many fake products. Fake Nike tennis shoes. Fake Coach handbags. Fake Nokia cell phones. They look amazing, but it doesn?t take long to figure out they are not authentic. These products are made by corrupt companies pretending to be something they are not. It’s only?a matter of time until they are discovered?and put out of business. Because people know. And if they don’t know right away, they will know soon enough. It is the same in life and leadership. People can detect a fake.
When we act like we love people, but we really don?t, people know. Instead we must work on truly loving people. When we act like we love?to spend time with people, but we really don?t, people know. Instead we must either avoid?spending time with them or learn to enjoy spending with time. In business, when we feign profit is not the most important goal, but deep down we believe it is, people know. Instead we must work to understand the healthy relationship between profit and people.
Inauthenticity?damages our leadership.?It’s the inside work that really matters.
Leadership training sometimes doesn’t work.
Through?all my years of studying, writing, speaking, and practicing healthy leadership, I have had one haunting question: Why can’t I train people to be better leaders faster?
Here is the answer: Because it is not about skills; it is about who they really are on the inside. And while people can?change, it is a slow process. For example, I believe that authentic love should be at the heart of leadership. Can you help someone become more loving in a one-day seminar? Or a one-week conference? Or even after one year of intensive training?
I don’t say this to discourage you, but to encourage you, my friend, to work on your true self. Your authentic self. And as a leader, encourage others to do the same. Because the whole world has a clear window to what is inside.
What if our forehead screen read: “I really love you.” Or, “I am okay with this mistake. We will deal with it.” Or, “I am ready to help you.”
Only when we cultivate authentic beauty on the inside will?people?respond positively to us as leaders. Let’s make that our daily aim. To be genuinely better versions of ourselves.
For Further Reading:
Transparency in Leadership
Four Secrets to Resilient Relationships