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Becoming A New Kind Of Leader

Gone are the days when a leader could sit in an ivory tower, looking at spreadsheets and reporting back to constituents. Today’s leader must be so, so much more.

The old model of leadership is based on authority. Sacrificing the well being of followers to meet the needs of the bottom line is commonplace. Authoritarian leaders view everyone as simply a cog in the machine. The corporation is the mask an authoritarian leader hides behind. Going out of their way to be unseen, they pull the strings while taking as little accountability as possible.

Sound familiar? You’ve likely run into this leadership style as an employee at one time or another.

This style of leadership is fundamentally flawed. It leads to fear and skepticism, as the leader must continuously reassert authority to maintain control. True leadership comes from mutual trust.

The challenge today is to become a new kind of leader. The leaders making the biggest impact understand what it means to be a new kind of leader. Think for a second and I’m sure you can name some. Bezos, Page, Cook, Hsieh and the list goes on.

They are stepping out from behind the mask of the corporation and revealing themselves as relatable individuals. They connect with their followers and give them a reason to contribute. Not just internally, they have stepped up to be the face of their companies. Accountability and the willingness to step up for their followers, aka employees, is what makes them stand out as exceptional leaders.

Now think about companies like 3M, Caterpillar, or IBM. Can you name a leader in one of those companies? Without jumping to your Internet browser it is unlikely. Not that these leaders are not exceptional in their own right, but they do not have the same kind of following as the new leaders we see making waves in the market place.

So what defines this new kind of leader? First, we know their name. They are engaging and willing to communicate as an individual. It is also real, sure there is may be a speech coach and a team of lawyers on standby, but these leaders care about being authentic more than using perfect grammar. These leaders make themselves vunerable and make the effort to share why they believe what they believe.

Another defining factor is their courage to stand up for the people that depend on them. Simon Sinek in his book “Leaders Eat Last” explores the relationship between leader and follower. He makes the connection that true leaders are willing to put themselves in harms way for the good of their team and therefore the team is willing to sacrifice themselves for the leader. A new kind of leader fosters this reciprocal relationship by standing up for the team.

True leaders understand that people are the heart of an organization, not just the means to a profitable or productive end. Making a connection is a fundamental part of leadership. Leaders who are personable and show vulnerability appear more approachable, which generates trust with the team.

So what are you going to do today to establish yourself as a new kind of leader? Step out with self-confidence and distinguish yourself in your team as someone who is personable and trustworthy. Remember to be liked and trusted, you have to be likable and trusting. Start building relationships and fostering trust. It is no longer possible to lead simply by doing a good job at certain tasks. True leadership requires you to make a connection and take responsibility for those who follow you.

Start presenting yourself as a new kind of leader. By doing so you will begin building the trust required for effective leadership.

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