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Leadership Development Blog

Real Leaders are Real People

What makes a real leader?

Think of a person who inspires you; someone you look up to. Is it someone incredibly accomplished and skilled who sits up high on a pedestal?  Are they so special they seem untouchable, inaccessible and perfect?  Or is it someone who has faced obstacles and challenges and overcome them to their betterment? 

A wonderful example of a perfectly imperfect leader and entrepreneur is the talented Naomi Simson, Founding Director of RedBalloon. She built a thriving business based on a very clear vision of its purpose.  She communicated the business values throughout the entire organisation.  She looks (and is) every bit the inspirational leader.

With all that she has achieved, it would be understandable that many of us would be overawed by Naomi Simson's success. But she is a real and authentic leader who freely talks about the mistakes she made as she was building the business.  Her honesty and authenticity makes her a real leader.

What mistakes did she make?  I recently read an article where she said:
  • She launched her business at the worst possible time and made no sales for two months. 
  • She had no real marketing plan.
  • Her website was image based, meaning that search engines could not see it.
  • The site was ugly and not appealing to prospective customers.
It's the way she freely shares her mistakes as well as her successes that makes Naomi Simson a real leader.  We see what she has done and how she has worked to get to where she is, and it makes success seem more possible for all of us.

Real leaders are real people, whether they are in public office, the head of the household or the family or at the helm of a large organisation. 

Showing weakness, or admitting adversity, especially when it has been overcome, allows the people you lead to identify with you and see you as a person with integrity.  Sometimes being too perfect and squeaky clean makes others uncomfortable, and they can find no common ground on which to relate to you.

Real Leaders are real people - good people, and are key to ongoing organisational success.  Transparency and integrity are far more important than perfection when it comes to leading a team.

If you'd like to read more about real leaders, and leading with integrity, we recommend the Books and CD's available on our website as a great resource to help you on your leadership journey.

Posted by Ricky Nowak on 14th April, 2014 |

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