Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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You can’t fake leadership

The work fake has various connotations and degrees. In one sense it means not real or untrue. It can be as harmless as an actor who shows contrived emotions or as damaging as a criminal who uses deception to defraud people of their money. Regardless of the degree, the act of faking or being fake results in negative consequences and is the antithesis of leadership.

People become leaders in different ways: some are elected, others are appointed, still others become leaders without ever having the title. Regardless of how you become a leader, you can’t fake leadership. Sure, there are people who do and some even get away with it for a while, but at some point, usually not too far down the road, people clue into the false intentions and the phony front and quit listening to or following the “leader” (who is not really a leader).

Becoming a leader requires a careful combination of confidence and humility. Remaining a leader and growing leadership capabilities require persistence and integrity. An essential characteristic of leadership is trust. Leaders live and work in ways that let them gain the trust of their people. They also trust their people; trust goes two ways. Ultimately, you cannot fake trust, you have to earn it, and you earn it by being genuine and real.