Glancing through Twitter or LinkedIn profiles, you may come across many who describe themselves as a leader, or as of late a “thought leader.” Yet when scrolling through their tweets or articles it becomes clear that most, if not all, of their content is stolen or regurgitated from someone else. While there is nothing wrong with repurposing content, it does certainly raise questions as to the validity of the individual’s leadership if all they do is merely copy or mimic what others are doing or saying. Thus, to help navigate through the swarms of self-described “thought leaders,” here are 8 traits that signal whether a leader is genuine or not.
- Understands the Importance of Mental Health
As our society becomes better at identifying and treating mental health issues, it is only natural that the workplace makes adjustments as well. Genuine leaders have no problems with these adjustments. In fact, they encourage them as leaders fully understand that if team members are sluggish or depressed, not only with their work take a hit, but the entire teams will as well. Thus, leaders possess a clear understanding of the important role of mental health in establishing and maintaining a productive, inspired and creative team.
- Their Life is their Example
Be the change that you wish to see – this wise maxim is often said, but true leaders take it to heart. They don’t merely develop the principles of a work culture, they embody it. Instead of wondering why no one is taking out the trash when its full or why no one is taking charge on a project, they take the initiative to lead by example so that they can be reflections of what they wish to see.
- Leaders Always Do What They Think Is Right, Even If Others Disagree
It’s often been said that it’s quite easy to lead when everything is going well, but it’s only in the middle of turmoil that true leaders show their colors. Such adage has prove true throughout history, for no matter whether it’s the writers of the Declaration of Independence fighting against the then aristocratic England or Rosa Parks standing up against racism, leaders have never had any problem going against the grain.
- Able to Identify Potential Cyber Risks
As the workplace continues to progress into the digital world, leaders and managers need to understand the risk they are putting themselves, their company and their peers in when posting and sharing content online. With cyber crimes on the rise, leaders must be proactive in learning and implementing cyber security procedures to guarantee that they are not apart of the 13.1 million who were victims of cyber fraud in 2015.
- Genuine Leaders Know How to Motivate
Even with the most rewarding or thrilling job, there may very well be discouraging times where motivation is lull. Leaders not only understand that slow times are a part of the work cycle, they have the insight to know and prepare for when these phases come. No matter whether it’s a pep talk to an entire team or a simple comment to a disheartened worker, genuine leaders know exactly what to say to motivate themselves and their peers to work through the difficult moments.
- Leaders Make Everyone Around Them Better
In sports, social justice or business, the glaring truth about leaders remains the same: they have the unique capability to shine and inspire the best out of those around them. Michael Jordan, Gandhi and Steve Jobs all excelled at inspiring others to dream bigger than what they thought was even possible.
- Genuine Leaders Understand the Short & Long-Term
Whether it relates to food or our online purchases, it seems that our society is obsessed with doing and having things as quick as possible. While there is not necessarily anything wrong with quick action, this mode of operation is not particularly effective for sustainability or long-term impact, two of the things which leaders value most. You see, leaders understand the importance of quickness, but they know that quickness without sustainability or long-term impact leads to destruction and dysfunction. As John Wooden, one of the greatest basketball coaches in the history of the game, once said, “Be Quick, but don’t hurry!”
- Leaders Share Information
For as long as I can remember, my grandma has always had a “secret family recipe” for her cookies (these cookies are amazing!) which she refused to share with anyone outside of her family tree. While keeping a secret may be okay for something simple like a cookie recipe, leaders understand the importance of sharing information, particularly if it may help or inspire others. In fact, the only reason most leaders are in the position they are is because someone they looked up to provided them with insight. Thus, a genuine leader has no problem returning the favor and sharing their life story or personal insights to help others progress and reach their full potential.
If you are interested in becoming a leader, don’t assume that having a leadership position automatically makes you a leader. In fact, leaders may not even be in traditional leadership positions or telling people what to do. Instead, they may be leading with their lives. Remember, there is nothing wrong with wanting or proclaiming yourself to be a leader, but you should make sure that your actions speak far louder than your words.