Authenticity and independence. Nothing could be more important for a leader than that. Living your life based on your principles and your values. No matter what. Form your own opinion. Based on your own independent critical thinking. Jumping on whatever bandwagon is always easy. Being your own bandwagon is tough and needs character. Character to stand up for yourself and what you found to be right. Even in the face of rejection or, worse, aggression. Yes, there is a price to it. Sometimes a high price. Nelson Mandela was a great leader on his own right standing up for what he believed in. Unfaltering. He spent 27 years in prison for staying true to himself and not compromising on his convictions. That’s character.
As a leader you determine your standards. You gotta define what you stand for. Your principles and your values you base your life upon. You commit to it. And then you live it. Anytime and every time and anywhere. In your personal life, In your business. Always. You can’t compromise on that, ever. Don’t settle for less. The moment you would compromise you are no longer authentic. No matter your excuses.
Many people will be eager to tell you what to do and how to do it. They want you to be like them. They want you to join their bandwagon. They want you to follow their opinion. The price would be losing your authenticity and making yourself dependent. Dependent on other peoples opinion. Dependent on other peoples approval. The fastest way to make yourself a prisoner of pleasing people. The worst a leader can do.
Leaders lead. They don’t follow opinions.
Yet, all too often people choose to chime in into what the majority believes. Seeking acknowledgement. Longing for approval. Longing for applause. Or looking for that extra buck it might make them. Going to great lengths to get it. Even if this means to betray their own principles and values. Addicted to pleasing others. And they become exchangeable. Something that could be anything. Something without character.
When they talk they use “clinically pure language”. Everything with the potential of making a clear, concise statement for what they stand for is removed. Instead, they use complicated phrasing filled with buzzwords. Delivering anemic speeches. A language designed to impress. Designed to suppress any questions. And they appear detached. Appear like the messenger and not the leader. Puppets on a string. Inauthentic and dependent. In self denial. The audience can sense it. Can smell the fear. Sooner, rather than later.
Authentic and independent leaders and thinkers have no need for the approval of others. They live their lives straight based on their principles and values. They have done their homework. Have done their critical thinking. And they talk about subjects they personally know and understand and have experienced. Emphasis on experience. They have formed their own, independent substantiated point of view. They don’t just repeat what others say. That’s what makes them not only stand out, but stand-alone.
Being authentic and independent is polarising. Some people might like you and some others won’t. And that’s ok.
Remember Apple’s “Think Different”, something Steve Jobs stood for:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Those are the leaders we need. Many more of those and much less, if any, of all the other well-adapted Teflon people.What’s it gonna be for you? Your choice.