Five Ways To Start Leading Authentically

When it comes to leadership, many leaders overthink it. Instead of determining goals, navigating paths and defining ways to overcome obstacles that arise, leaders often complicate things. Instead of doing something, they only talk about it.

James M. Kerr, an authority in leadership, strategy and organization design, says that leadership is really quite simple. It's about setting direction and managing change. If you could use a refresher on how to lead authentically and simplify your leadership approach, keep reading. We share Kerr's ideas to become an exceptional leader in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Be honest. There's nothing worse for a leader than gaining a reputation for being untrustworthy. On the flip side, if you are unwaveringly honest all the time, you don't run that risk. Kerr advises leaders to take full responsibility for their decisions—both good and bad.

2. Talk straight. Don't give your team a convoluted message, which only leads to confusion and misunderstanding. Kerr encourages leaders to keep their communications simple and to the point. Instead of being a leader who prefers rhetoric instead of simply stating the facts, keep your messages clear and straightforward.

3. Be real. Nobody wants to follow someone who is disingenuous. Although Steve Jobs was viewed as brash and self-centered by some, his employees adored working for him. They knew they would always get Steve being Steve. It was reliable and true. Don't try to be someone you're not. Be yourself, which is enough to inspire others to follow your lead.

4. Be decisive. People want their leaders to be able to make decisions. It's acceptable to take some time to gather insight and review the facts, but then make the call. Your business suffers if you delay. Kerr shares the example of how Ford announced in 1972 that all of its new cars would run on radial tires. Firestone, which sat at the top of the U.S. market, didn't have a radial tire. While the company contemplated whether it should invest in this new kind of tire manufacturing, Michelin entered the U.S. market with radial tires and dominated the market. Kerr urges leaders not to let analysis paralysis keep them from making a decision. As a leader, your ability to make sound decisions is imperative.

5. Be in it. The best leaders work right beside their people. Kerr reminds leaders of the importance of setting an example for your team. Don't think you're above doing the work. Work right alongside your people and they'll bust through brick walls for you.

Leading authentically doesn't have to be difficult. Kerr says leadership is about setting direction and managing change. If you find yourself talking about leadership more than actually leading, reflect on Kerr's advice above to be the kind of leader your team deserves.

Source: James M. Kerr is global chair of the consulting practices at N2Growth, a leadership advisory firm. For nearly 30 years, he has helped his clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed. Kerr is an expert in leadership, strategy, organizational design and cultural transformation.

filed under April 2019
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