Are you a great authentic leader?
Over the last 2 months as I have been speaking to various groups, I have increasingly been getting the
question, “What do you consider to be the characteristics of a good leader”? I believe that strong,
powerful, effective leadership begins with authenticity. If people believe that they are experiencing the
REAL you, then they are likely to feel more comfortable believing what you SAY, understanding what
you DO, and therefore, more apt to feel confident in following you. In addition, there are a few more
summary thoughts that I have regarding effective leadership. Over the next 6 weeks, I will share a few
quick thoughts about being an effective leader, letter by letter.
A is for Action
A great leader understands that one of the most important things that he or she can do is act when it is
time to act. You cannot inspire people to follow you if they think that when it is time to act on a decision
or to move a plan forward that you will hesitate or won’t act. Showing that you are always willing to
act also creates an undercurrent of a sense of urgency and people working with you will conduct their
duties with that instilled or implied sense of urgency.
One of the most important sayings that I have ever heard about acting as a leader was from Meg
Whitman when she was CEO of EBay. I heard her say at a conference, “The price of inaction is greater
than the cost of making a mistake.” It is a quote that has really stuck with me because it underscores
the notion that there is price to be paid for not acting, particularly in critical business situations.
Sometimes that cost might be the loss of a great acquisition candidate, the opportunity to do an
overnight stock transaction at an attractive opportunistic price for your stock, hiring a great value
add candidate from a competitor, or saying no to a transaction that could expose your company or
organization to significant risk. The statement also reminds me that sometimes we don’t want to act
because we are afraid of making a mistake with said action and remember, as I have written in Expect To
Win and as I continue to say in my speeches, “Fear has no place in your success equation; anytime that
you operate from a position of fear, you will ALWAYS under penetrate that opportunity.” If you have
studied the situation and solicited ideas from your people and other colleagues, ACT on the best choice
that you can make at that time, but ACT.