Posts Tagged ‘authentic leaders’

Are You An Authentic or Just Charismatic Sales Leader?

Would you rather be an authentic or a charismatic sales leader?  This early Saturday morning question surfaced as I read a posting over on LinkedIn.  The posting linked to this HBR article.

sales-leaderMany people fall for the charismatic salesperson.  These are the folks with the warm smile and firm handshake. They seem to make that immediate emotional connection.  Their solutions appears to be want the sales prospect wants to needs.

Then after the checked has been received, the delivery made, these charismatic sales leaders can never be found. Excuses are made as to why something didn’t get done. Often times they will pass the buck, blame others.  Long term customers are really not their goal.

Authentic leaders appear not to be as charismatic.  They also have the warm smile and the firm handshake. Making an emotional connection may not be as immediate.  Unlike the charismatic sales leaders, they are around after the sale.  These individuals do not make excuses for them as the buck stops with them.

Another difference between the authentic and charismatic sales leader is their audience.  As I noted in the LinkedIn comment, the reason some people fall for the charismatic leaders is the internal desire for the quick fix.

Most of us internally want the quick fix even though we know the results probably will not be sustainable.  Time is precious and time is money.  When we can have those quick fixes, we then can go on to other important matters and happiness will follow.

We know this to be true if we look at all those quick fix products sold from the self improvement industry, the health industry to the sales industry.  Many of them are sold by charismatic people.  And yet the problems are still very much present.

Probably the most notable difference is authentic leaders are guided by non-negotiable positive core values (business ethics) while for some charismatic leaders they will do or say whatever they need to do or say to get their prospects to take action.  They may promise the moon (oversell the solution) or make negative comments about the competition. Again for them winning is everything and the heck with positive core values.

Each of us in sales has a choice to be an authentic sales leader or a charismatic one.  For me I prefer the former because I will never sacrifice my positive core values for a quick buck.

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When Planning Becomes Leadership Procrastination

Planning is essential to any endeavor be it a personal, professional or business one. By engaging in planning through the application of critical thinking skills and self leadership, resources are allocated in the most efficient and effective manner. Yet there comes a time to stop with the planning and take action.  Unfortunately what happens all too often is planning becomes leadership procrastination.

leadership-procrastinationThis turn of event is quite evident within larger organizations and especially government or not for profits.  How often do we read of leadership forming another committee to address a particular issue and plan in how to turn that usually negative issue around?

Here in Northwest IN, I have lost count of the committees formed during the last 20 years and the plans drawn up to address education, lack of qualified workers to economic growth.  Yet our region still lacks quality education based on graduation rates and post secondary attendance.  This continues to create a lack of qualified and skilled workers.  As to economic growth, last year the U.S. economy grew around 3.2%, Indiana at a higher rate of 4.7% and Northwest IN at a dismal rate of .3%.  (Source: IU Kelly School of Business Annual Round Table). So how is all that planning working for at least Northwest Indiana?

Here is where leadership continues through planning aka procrastination “to kick the can down the road.”  We will have the “dog and pony shows” of committees being formed recommendations being made and wait for the next group of leaders to take real action. Of course, the next group of real leaders are just the leaders in waiting trained by the existing leaders.

In business, leadership procrastination is one of the major obstacles to just getting things done.  How often have I heard “Yes it’s on my to do list (plan), but I need to take care of this stuff first.”  And the to do list continues to grow along with the procrastination.

Another symptom of leadership procrastination is consensus.  Have you heard or read about during a planning session of “We must get everyone on board. This will take time.”

Really?  What about finding those who don’t want to be on board, learning why and if it their reasons are personal and selfish, then get rid of them. Margaret Thatcher said “Consensus is the absence of leadership.”  She was right because authentic leaders know not everyone will agree.

Leadership procrastination hides behind planning and other false leadership behaviors.  Believe it or not, someone must take action even if it is the wrong action and requires a revision to the plan.  Things happen as they say that are beyond even the best thought out personal to strategic plans.

Ask yourself today are you really committed to taking action or are you hiding behind planning as inexcusable leadership procrastination?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Leadership Fallacy of Wanting to Be Liked

People buy into leadership for the same reason they buy anything else – knowing and trusting. The idea of wanting to be liked as a leader is a fallacy. Authentic leaders accept from day one that not everyone will like them because down the road the they know they may ask for what seems to be the impossible.



Merrill’s Marauders

Major General Frank Merrill asked his men to do the impossible.  He was not liked by many of those under his command because he pushed them beyond what was viewed as possible.  From his leadership efforts and those of his men (3,000 volunteers) the U.S. Army disrupted the Japanese lines in Burma to even capturing an airfield.  At the end of his engagement, the men who survived the mission had to be hospitalized with everything from malnutrition to A.O.E. (Accumulation of Everything).

When leaders want to be liked, they may make decisions that will harm some members of the team if not the entire the organization.  By demonstrating knowledge and building trust, those in leadership roles realize liking is a benefit, but not the desired end result.

Returning to General Merrill, he trained his 3,000 Army volunteers in India as not to tip off the Japanese. His men learned through him various guerrilla warfare skills. Through the difficult training, his men began to know him and to trust him and in some instances dislike him.  They were conditioned to carry their own field gear as they trekked through the 1,000 mile walk into Burma from India.  Their efforts earned them the name of Merrill’s Marauders, the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Bronze Star.

The Human Condition

Of course for many, the human condition of wanting to be liked is ever present.  Those in authentic leadership roles do not intentionally want their team members to dislike them.  However, they realize the mission, the goal, the purpose must not be sacrificed because some in the team may come to dislike them. Possibly this is reasoning behind Margaret Thatcher’s quote about “consensus is the absence of leadership.”

Why do so many leaders seek consensus?  Probably because they want everyone to like their decision.

Being an authentic leader is not easy.  Many decisions will challenge the status quo and potentially change it.

For those in leadership roles or those seeking to be leaders, they understand and accept these three facts:

  • They must demonstrate knowledge
  • They must build trust
  • They will not be liked by everyone

When they embrace these three facts, then their team will be able to do what is viewed by many as the impossible.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Sometimes Leadership Is Ugly as It Should Be

Here in the US there is a lot of angst about the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.  We can hear a lot complaints about the current selection process being messy and this squabble, this indecision does not look pretty. Funny I have yet to read any definition that included pretty in its definition.

leadershipLeadership is not pretty and it can be very ugly mess.

Why would anyone want pretty?  Leaders arise from ugliness, from messy fights, from the aftermath of others who believed in pretty.

Ugliness, messiness, are part of what separates the followers from the authentic leaders who can build collaboration and who aren’t afraid of making decisions that aren’t pretty.

Returning to the annals of history, we have accounts of real messes such as Truman not knowing about the Manhattan Project to Eisenhower deciding when to land on the beaches of Normandy. Then there is also George Washington at Valley Forge.

All of these leaders faced ugly messes.  Moving forward when others recommended retreating is something that is not easy to do.  Authentic leaders know that leadership is making those tough choices and hard decisions.

Today’s culture gives the appearance that leadership should be pretty.  Everyone should come together in a Kumbaya moment.  Unfortunately, this is not reality, but a reality created by those who never, ever held a significant leadership role where people’s existence depending upon that next decision.

Younger people have been taught by many who have never been responsible for a payroll; for paying vendors for keeping the lights on and the economy moving forward. This culture of consensus driven leadership has created a void in today’s business world.  Business executives are concerned about the lack of future leaders within their organizations.

Maybe it is the time to start telling the real truth about real, authentic leadership and all its ugliness.

Authentic leaders are:

  • Not liked by everyone
  • Human
  • Not perfect

Being a business leader is not easy, no it’s tough and requires a strong mental attitude along with resiliency.  Possibly this is the message we should be sharing with younger people instead of the one of “everyone (leaders) gets a trophy.”

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 1-219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Hiding Behind The Can’t Find Me Marketing Curtain

Have you ever come across a mid size to small business on the Internet and in perusing the website  could not find the principals, the owners of that business?  What I have discovered is this “Can’t Find Me” marketing curtain appears to be more common with businesses offering professionals services such as sales training or executive coaching.

marketing-curtainHow does it make you feel when you are unable to determine who the person is behind the marketing curtain?  For me, distrust starts growing especially if it is a firm that shared on its website about the thousands of people its trained, service or helped.

My little brain is now being filled with distrust. With my innate curiosity and pretty quick research skills, I will do some Internet searching to see if I can find the person hiding behind the marketing curtain. Usually I can find the principal or owner through LinkedIn, if not through a couple of searches on Google. Then I wonder why hide from the world? 

Are you the Wizard of Oz?

The “Can’t Find Me” marketing curtain is also connected with some blogs.  Mid-size to small businesses post their blogs to their websites and the author is the company.  Maybe it is just me, but I have yet to find a business that can write or type.  What I do find are people.  So why are people hiding from their very own potential ideal customers?

If the purpose of marketing is to attract attention (hopefully positive) and to begin to build a relationship, then why would anyone with any common sense hide behind the marketing curtain? We are not in Oz or are we?

People buy from people they know and trust. Hiding behind some website does not encourage people to know you or to trust you. This is also true when it comes to LinkedIn and not having a profile picture.

In marketing a mid-size to small business, sometimes it is the very small aspects that are ignored and create failure. Anyone can put up a website and write words that may or not may be true.

Authentic leaders realize people buy from people they know and trust. These individuals will have their names present on their websites, their social media accounts and let us know forget their blogs.

Hiding behind the “Can’t Find Me” marketing curtain is limiting your sales leads opportunities. Even if you have your name somewhere on your website, make sure it is easily found by those coming to your website. Let people, your potential sales leads, know there is a real person behind the marketing curtain.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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Authority Reveals True Leadership Authenticity

leadership-authenticityThe recent challenge to current Speaker of the House, John Boehner, reveals true leadership authenticity if the reports from some Republican Congressmen are true. History, however, has provided how authority can diminish leadership through these often repeated phrases:

  • My way or the highway
  • You mess with the bull; you get the horns
  • Get in line, or face the consequences

Authentic leaders do not lead by fear or force. Instead they lead through positive core values, open dialogue and a extreme willingness for self-reflection and personal accountability.

Speaker’s Boehner’s first mistake was not investing in self reflection two years ago when his Speaker of the House leadership was challenged.  If he had, those against his style of leadership would have decreased not increased.

leadership-authenticityAuthority in and by itself is not leadership. What authority really is, is granting permission to someone or something to have control over your behaviors or the behaviors of others.  In this instance, Boehner has authority over Congress as permitted through the U.S. Constitution.

People have the leadership power to vote as to whom they wish to give authority.  In Boehner’s example, some did not want him to have this authority or believed his past leadership skills were insufficient.

History has also provided people who lack any authority and yet their leadership authenticity shined through all the noise.  Individuals like Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King just to name a few come to mind.  Of course those with authority sometimes give under false promises, ignorance and misconceptions can just as easily be named including Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin.

Today’s leaders must not allow authority to take over and create a culture of distrust through retribution and other negative, reactive behaviors. Speaker of the House Boehner has potentially demonstrated the significant cracks in his leadership authenticity.

My free advice to Congressman Boehner and to other leaders who have faced a leadership uprising is to take the high ground and immediately:

  1. Honor their earlier statement of no reprisals from anyone who disagreed with them
  2. Immediately connect with those who disagree and establish areas of agreement
  3. Work with all in their organizations to find areas of agreement
  4. Do not confuse agreement with consensus or compromise
  5. Create a rotating 360 accountability process where they meet with all stakeholders to receive feedback
  6. Hire an executive coach to work through this feedback and to improve his executive leadership skills
  7. Be willing to turn over their authority if others find a lack of sustainability in their behaviors and leadership skills as well as for fresh ideas

When leaders recognize authority comes from the power of others and is not theirs forever and forever, they have indeed taken the first baby step toward true leadership authenticity.

So how do you rate as a leader?  The first step is to understand your own leadership skills  (talents) and this talent assessment provides incredible accuracy and clarity as to how to gain that understanding.


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Consensus Style Leadership Is Leading from Behind

Margaret Thatcher is quoted as saying “Consensus is the absence of leadership.” When we look at the worlds around us, there does appear to be an increase in “consensus style leadership.”

consensus-style-leadershpThe essential issue with consensus style leadership is it results in leading from behind. When leaders invest a lot of time to get every to agree, the time to take action has past.

Sometimes business leaders or those in government and even in families must lead first, must make those tough choices, those hard decisions even though they know their actions will upset someone if not many.

Just imagine if consensus style leadership was applied during these moments in American and world history:

  • General Washington during winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower on determining D-Day
  • President Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs

Authentic leaders must gather information and then synthesize that knowledge within their own decision making process. Probably one of the best examples 0f consensus style leadership is the Indian story about the blind men describing the elephant. And we all know how that story ended.

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Leaders Must Be Present When the Going Gets Tough

When leaders be them elected or in business fail to be present to hear potentially negative remarks demonstrates they are not authentic leaders. The recent walk about by the Democrats in the US Congress hearing on Benghazi revealed why we have a leadership problem here in the US.

leadersWhen the going gets tough, leaders must remain. Leaving the scene or the moment is not an option.  They must lead by facing those difficult moments.

Exceptional eadership means you will have those moments when you must face criticism even if you have been placed in a no-win situation.

Authentic and exceptional leaders recognize there are consequences for their decisions and sometimes those consequences are not of their own choosing, They must deal with what is happening at that moment.

As a former elected school board trustee, employee, sales manager and even parent, I could not walk out when the going became tough.

If we want our young people, our employees and our citizens to be leaders, then those in higher positions must demonstrate authentic leadership. They cannot leave their posts when the going gets tough.

Our country suffered a tremendous blow when our political leaders now believe they can walk out when the going gets tough. They are sending a terrible message to all citizens and leaders.

Thanks heavens George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Edison and Mary Kay Ash did not leave their posts when the going got tough.

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How Management Should Consider Going Beyond Being Financially Business Fit

One of my clients and colleagues, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales recently shared one of my postings on how to increase sales by dressing for success with his email list. After sending him a quick email thank you,  Rick also let me know he has shed a significant amount of weight. I will not share the actual number, but it was more than 10 pounds. And I must add, he looks terrific.

Rick made an observation about Undercover Boss and how the CEO of Choice Hotels could not keep up with his employees.  His insightful comment was “He has success, maybe even more if he paid attention to himself.”

He is so right. How often do we in management whether we are  small business owners, sales professionals or even C Suite executives become so entangled in the day to day grind to keep the business or organization financially fit, we forget to take care of our own minds and bodies?

Recently, I have engaged a nutritionist, Jodi Barnett of Harvested Health to help me with improving my physical health.  I think my next step will be Yoga because I need to stretch my muscles. Also, part of my personal development includes reading both fiction and non-fiction books,  making time for friends and being involved in my church.

As authentic leaders, working on our own minds, hearts and bodies is just as important as working on our businesses. Balance is required to ensure proper alignment between our professional and personals worlds.

Also in management, it is important to model the desired behaviors you expect of your employees or your clients. Management Coaching Tip: Just imagine if all your managers demonstrated living a healthy life. What impact would that have on your workforce. When someone is in a leadership capacity and is asking employees to be healthy, but his or her physical appearance is just the opposite, would they be credible or believable?

Some say that 60 is the new 40. (I will let you know next year if that is true.) Due to better nutrition, increased health awareness and the evolving use of technology, human beings are living longer. Unfortunately, many including those in management are not taking care of their own health and this is a potential leadership disaster waiting to happen. If you think this is not true, just pick up the paper and read about obesity or just observe those around you.

Today, professionals who are really authentic leaders need to go beyond being business financially fit. They must get out of their comfort zones, leave the status quo and become physically, mentally, socially, and ethically fit as well. By taking these actions, they will have the energy to increase sales not to mention to truly enjoy their families and friends.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images –

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