The Dark Side of Follow the LEADER

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Choose your leaders carefully.

Wise words that we would all agree with and yet how many of us get to know the obvious and not so obvious aspects of a leader – BEFORE we jump in and follow them?

Obvious aspects are those we can all see. Examples are their likeability, dressing, body language and grooming. Also their tone of voice, leadership style and their past performance.

Not so obvious aspects would mean those qualities and attributes that we cannot see without getting to know them personally or investigating with more discerning eyes. Usually these aspects include their values, operating model, typical emotional state, beliefs, honesty, candor, ethics and integrity.

Why are these not so obvious aspects so important? Because these are the qualities that are better predictors of future performance, behavior under stress and most important of all… these are the aspects that we take on and duplicate from our leaders without evening realizing it!

If that doesn’t scare you – it should.

Lets say you are an ethical person and you pride yourself on your honesty, straightforwardness and openness. You want to improve your relationship to money so you look for a teacher to follow who appears to be world-renowned, well respected and successful. If you take this on face value you would conclude that this teacher is a good person to learn from and you decide to follow them.

Unbeknownst to you this teacher has a flexible relationship with the truth and believes that money is to be prized and valued over all else. If they suggested you do outright unethical things this would trigger your doubt and you would see it right away. The thing is, their true nature is masked by their public persona and they have such a good act that most well meaning people would not be able to see them easily or accurately.

In fact, many of these people have well crafted strategies to keep their real nature and intention a secret. They often engage in charity projects and donate publicly to needy causes. They will talk about doing the right thing and being a good person, while behind the scenes are doing exactly the opposite! We call this “public relations”.

Why does this matter to you so much? Because you are going to take on what they say, do and believe unconsciously. These unconscious memes will become a part of your makeup and you may find yourself compromising your standards little by little. You may also find that when you do what they say they have done, your results are different from theirs. Assuming you implement and execute exactly… it may not work for you because they didn’t do what they said they did!

This gap between what they say they did and reality can cause you to lose confidence in yourself and to doubt your own abilities… when in fact you should be doubting them and their advice!

Train yourself to look for the obvious and not so obvious aspects of a leader. Tune into their feeling. Look for “bodies on the side of the road.” Ask questions and look for telltale signs of incongruence. The more slick they are, the deeper you have to look to determine fact from fiction.

Choose a worthy leader and be a worthy follower!

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