Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked. – Peter Guber
The road to success today has changed dramatically from when I first became a point leader 30+ years ago. Thirty years ago, leadership was all about command and control. Someone else had to give you the power and authority in order to lead. And, you could almost say it was “cosmetic.” If you had the right suit, spoke with authority, had the right education and received the right title, you were anointed as a leader. But, there was little ability to self-identify as a leader and receive any respect.
Today, you can build a tribe of followers almost overnight if you have the right message. Today, it is all about authenticity, it is about how connected you are – and we no longer have to worry about geographical limitations due to the power of the internet.
One great example of this new “road to success” is seen through TED Talks. Someone can go from a researcher who spends all of her time in a lab and is completely unknown to an overnight celebrity thought-leader. We were looking at one potential speaker for Catalyst University and we couldn’t find anything about her online other than her personal wedding announcement video and her TED Talk video – that had hundreds of thousands of views. Almost overnight, she went from being a free speaker who only requested her travel costs to be covered to charging close to $40,000 for a one hour talk. Does she deserve it? Probably. The strength of her ideas are amazing. But she is the perfect demonstration of how leaders today literally have the opportunity to lead on a global platform almost overnight.
It is undoubtedly a great time to be a leader or an aspiring leader, but as quickly as you can climb, you can also crash that much faster. In the past, you could hide your faults or bad behaviors, but today the microscope on leaders is much stronger. The same magnifying glass that can increase your influence at record speed also magnifies the expectations your followers have of your leadership. More than anything, people want authenticity from those they follow. So, before you take your leadership public, make sure you truly live the values that you project – only then can your overnight success have real staying power.
Question: Think about the well-known thought-leaders you follow, what about them do you admire the most? Is your own leadership reflecting those qualities?