If You Want to Be a Real Leader, Quit Being Fake


Source: Fortune


These days it seems everyone’s a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author or motivational speaker.

In a digital world full of virtual personas, authenticity is quickly becoming an endangered quality. Everyone wants to be what they’re not. That would be fine if folks would just keep their delusions to themselves. Unfortunately, they’re jumping on the “fake it ‘til you make it” hype parade en masse.

Maybe you haven’t noticed that everyone is suddenly a CEO, a serial entrepreneur, a best-selling author, amillennial millionaire, a [fill in the blank] expert, an award-winning motivational speaker or a coach who can inspire you to find happiness, greatness or your purpose in life, even though they can’t find it themselves.

Like it or not, B.S. is the new normal.

How in the world did such dysfunctional behavior become a cultural norm, practically overnight? I’m not really sure. I suppose it could have been the personal branding craze or Facebook envy that made everyone so desperate to portray themselves in a utopian light. The next thing we knew, LinkedIn profiles that once resembled resumes had turned into fanciful works of fiction.

Clearly, the architects of Web 2.0 never foresaw that social media and user-generated content would become the loudest echo chamber in the history of humankind. Reinforced by billions of blog posts, likes, updates, tweets and retweets, a trending hashtag can go viral and become a global phenomenon in a flash.

Even if this disturbing trend did start online, it certainly didn’t end there. It’s hitting the fan in leadership circles all over the offline world, as well.

It certainly doesn’t help that political leaders routinely lie through their teeth and get away with it. Why do they do it? I’m sure it hasn’t escaped any of the beltway political strategists or campaign advisors that we the people have our heads stuck so far up our smartphones we can no longer see the light of reality.

How prophetic were the words of Hillary Clinton, when she asked rhetorically, “What difference at this point does it make?” Indeed. She was referring to the terrorist attack on our Benghazi embassy in 2012, but her words highlight our growing ambivalence to truth. We’re simply too distracted to care.

Not to pick on the politicians, but you’ve got to admit, when it comes to authenticity, you simply can’t find easier targets. Perhaps a business leader like Harvard business professor and former Medtronic CEO Bill George would make a more challenging, if not intriguing, example.

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