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5 Tips for Identifying Fake Leaders

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5 Tips for Identifying Fake Leaders

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What is a Fake Leader (FL)? It is someone disguised as a person in a leadership position who focuses on self and not the organization or ultimate good of people. It’s someone caught in minutia and is incapable of seeing the big picture, someone who misses the needed day-to-day facts to support growth and well-being of people and the organization. A person in a leadership position, who renders opinions without substance, does not inspire followers to achieve a vision, nor inspire followers to want to work together as a team. Fake Leaders talk a good game and produce very little. They are focused on self, money, and self-aggrandizement. They confuse a vision of hope with threatening statements and forecast a better place for followers through half-truths and retracted statements, with promises that we will be told the rest of the story in a few days.

What is a Fake Leader (FL)? It is someone disguised as a person in a leadership position who focuses on self and not the organization or ultimate good of people. It’s someone caught in minutia and is incapable of seeing the big picture, someone who misses the needed day-to-day facts to support growth and well-being of people and the organization. A person in a leadership position, who renders opinions without substance, does not inspire followers to achieve a vision, nor inspire followers to want to work together as a team. Fake Leaders talk a good game and produce very little. They are focused on self, money, and self-aggrandizement. They confuse a vision of hope with threatening statements and forecast a better place for followers through half-truths and retracted statements, with promises that we will be told the rest of the story in a few days.

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5 Tips for Identifying Fake Leaders

  1. 1. 5 Tips for Identifying Fake Leaders Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC What is a Fake Leader (FL)? It is someone disguised as a person in a leadership position who focuses on self and not the organization or ultimate good of people. It’s someone caught in minutia and is incapable of seeing the big picture, someone who misses the needed day-to-day facts to support growth and well-being of people and the organization. A person in a leadership position, who renders opinions without substance, does not inspire followers to achieve a vision, nor inspire followers to want to work together as a team. Fake Leaders talk a good game and produce very little. They are focused on self, money, and self-aggrandizement. They confuse a vision of hope with threatening statements and forecast a better place for followers through half- truths and retracted statements, with promises that we will be told the rest of the story in a few days. Fake Leaders can speak in sound bites motivating the audience to await outcomes that will never occur. People mistakenly think the Fake Leaders are people of conscientiousness but slowly they reveal their hubris only wanting self-satisfaction and pleasure. Civility a formal politeness that leaders may demonstrate as role models for social convention is not part of the Fake Leaders tool box. Leadership, manifests through the actions of a person on any level. Effective leaders help us to have clarity of the future, and support us in achieving that future. They are motivators who help us get through the mundane, and pain of the present and they support followers in wanting to work together to achieve a better future. More importantly true authentic leaders inspire us collectively to want to work together and help each other to achieve a brighter future and new places of human exploration.
  2. 2. The following 5 Tips for Identifying Fake Leaders (FLs) are based on my many years of observation in my work in national and international corporations and, as of late, leaders on the national level. As you read the 5 Tips, sit back and hear the leaders talking with you about how they lead and their fake rhetoric. Use the 5 Tips as a Scorecard and compare people in leadership positions against the Fake Leaders and then with the Successful and Authentic Leaders. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who are led by a Successful and Authentic Leader! Tip #1There are no Facts or Truth Tell people what they want to hear without any knowledge of facts. Tell them anything so they believe in a great tomorrow that will never come. Tell them so they cheer for you in the belief you will take them to a better place or offer suggestions of well-being. Over the centuries there have been leaders who were able to rally people to take action that was not in their best interests but they took the action because the Fake Leaders, charlatans, disguised themselves as caring human beings with an ability to achieve all that they promised. I will give you want you want by telling you about it. I will create the proverbial carrot and stick routine without ever producing results. Promising anything without any tangle results produces nothing but useless aspiration of dreams that were never real. Hope is a tangible reality with direction while a daydream is wasted words. Hope becomes a reality through the support of a clear vision, evidence, and actions of both the leaders and followers to fulfill the promise of Hope. Facts are concrete action points that can fulfill the hope people want and need. What a terrible thing it is to lose hope based on empty, long winded, and unfounded promises from Fake Leaders. Tip #2 Impulsivity Impulsivity appeals to the raw instinct because people want to believe in the Fake Leader’s capabilities to achieve greatness. Impulsivity is based on the spontaneous thoughts of any moment usually lacks reason and truth. The Fake Leader makes irreverent comments and states unfounded truths that deflect from self on to an identified person projecting evil. That person then, becomes the patsy, the cause of all ills. These Fake Leaders revert to the language of the street so that they can be perceived as common folk representing us and addressing our anger and mitigating our frustrations. The followers want to believe these Fake Leaders can bring about change but that will never occur. FLs are great at portraying themselves as representing the common folk when in essence they only are satisfying their own selfish needs of power given to them through the acceptance of the common folk who have swallowed the foul stench of half- truths covered in chocolate. Impulsivity becomes a mantle to motivate those in such need of change that they believe without rational thought, no premeditation of a plan, no calm, no deliberate consideration, just a resulting chaos. Impulsivity also is the enemy of attention- focused achievement and its correlate, attention to detail, accurate historical perspective and plan development. The impulsive statements have no fortitude, no timetable for implementation and no basis in fact. Tip #3 Stability Stability is the key to leaders who create the steady course of change and direction. There have been many examples of leaders who create stability from chaos. FLs create more chaos from the
  3. 3. chaotic situation of the present. Fake Leaders thrive on chaos and call it organized and clarity of leadership knowing that it does not represent nor fulfill what was or will be expected. Fake Leaders create such unstable environments that the second tier of leaders realizing they have been placed in untenable situations find themselves having to chose between failure or leaving, vote with their feet and leave. Or the Fake Leader, who creates the untenable and chaotic environment, relieves the second-tier leaders of their duties and blames them for the unorganized mess. This is a mere distraction from the truth that the narcissistic Fake Leader justifies by ridiculing and dismissing the now emotionally depleted fallen second tier leader. Tip#4 Exaggerated Results Fake Leaders love to exaggerate their own personal successes. They will tell followers how good they are, how they have created success and how they single handedly have accomplished so much. They take the successes and accomplishments from others and exploit their fake success. They forget that the only reason they are successful is because of others. While exaggerating success, they also act tough even though they have never placed themselves in a given difficult situation. They are politically savvy and capable of telling a story of accomplishments never achieved. FLs ridicule and create simplistic mantras upon which they can be known. The problem is the mantras are based on their half-truths without foundation to solicit support from the naïve person who wants to believe s/he can do what they said they could do. By the time the Fake Leader is found out it is too late: they are entrenched in their cocoon of lies and deceit continuing to attack others as fast as they can. In today’s technically driven workplace, it is possible to continue to spew lies and half-truths hastily bypassing the hard work of negotiating, following through and measuring successes and greatness. But technology will be the verifier to show their half-truths as fake truths. FLs don’t have to measure success because they create innuendo, and quickly move from topic-to-topic and person-to-person with continual distraction from staying the course of action and success. FLs never demonstrate the ability to work down in the trenches that eventually cause success. Because they have to stay ahead of the questioning body of followers the FLs continue to attack past leaders as the reason for today’s failures even when it is clear too much time has elapse and past leaders are no longer the logical reason for failure. Tip #5 Applying Successes from Unrelated Situations. Applying successes from unrelated situations is not a reason to expect future success. A man who is an effective stockbroker may not be an effective speechwriter or architect. Those are different professions. A Fake Leader who runs an organization as a sole proprietor may not be able to transition to a charismatic leader who is an influencer and caring person. An ogre may have a tough time getting other leaders to follow and only stop when threats impose the greater risk than taking unfounded action. What causes leaders to be successful? How should we measure success? The cause of success is not the ability to tell me I am going to be successful rather it is outcome based. Success factors are important milestones for all to follow and utilize in understanding if a leader is a success or failure. Another measure of effective leadership is to ask followers if they want to follow this leader? If a follower’s life depended on it would they follow the Fake Leader into battle knowing their life and the lives of family members depended on it. The FL will tell you it will be great, it will be the best, but what past successes can they give as examples. Usually NONE!
  4. 4. The 5 Fake Leader traits and characteristics can allow you to identify Fake Leaders. Fake Leadership is all about the leader taking advantage through half-truths, schmoozing, emotional arrogance, and intimidation. With all of the leadership training and the billions of dollars that go into that training, why do we still have people in leadership positions that exhibit Fake Leadership? With the changing emotional times people are frustrated and have no place to turn so the spewing charlatan (Fake Leaders) pontificate half-truths find an opening in their disenchantment and validate the discontent with distortions and fabrications. Through out history there have been Fake Leaders who have decimated the resources of human kind until good people rise up against them. In contrast, what does an Authentic Leader do? Authentic Leaders – #1: Analyze the Situation Authentic Leaders are reliable, trustworthy, realistic and accurate. Authentic Leaders observe others who are role models and acquire the skills needed to be a leader. Authentic Leaders start by examining the whole picture not bits and pieces of a situation. Fake Leaders start by taking action before knowing the whole picture, emotionally responding with bits and pieces to address a situation (band aides). Authentic Leaders take the time needed to understand and know the situation and consequences for taking action. Authentic Leaders create an awareness of the situation and what actions are needed to create calm, fix, resolve, and or address what has occurred. Reflecting on outcomes Authentic Leader understand consequences of leadership actions and next step solutions. Authentic Leaders understand their own emotions, abilities and biases in leading and are able to overcome quick ineffective actions. Authentic Leaders – #2: Set A Tone Authentic Leaders realize they set a tone and emotion that followers assume and replicate. Many times second tier leaders take on the characteristics of the leader because their belief is this is how I need to act to be successful. The actual outcome is the absence of respect and distain for the Fake Leader’s followers. Authentic Leaders set a tone that creates trust, which is the cohesive adhesive that holds people and leaders together as one team. Trust is fact based with follow through actions toward achievement, which set a tone of leadership. Trust is a history of people working together and communicating thoughts and feelings, and taking or not taking action to achieve a common goal. It does not take long for observers and followers to either have trust or the absence of trust with regard to a leader. The opposite of trust is not mistrust it is the absence of trust. I have no mistrust with the person if we have no history (just met). Trust = doing what you say. Trust = showing that you are capable and the Authentic Leader (AL) has trust in you and followers in the Authentic Leader’s ability to perform. Leadership must be built on mutual trust. Trust is an outcome of doing what you say based on facts, care and supporting the facts in achieving the promises that were given. Trust begins by the Authentic Leader setting the right tone. Authentic Leaders – #3: Focused Attention
  5. 5. Attention by leaders is shown by a concentration and fulfillment of a project, topic, or promise. It is completeness and dedication to fulfilling what was said and or promised. Authentic Leaders listen to themselves and have a commitment to connect with others and follow through. They demonstrate care and compassion through the communication connection of listening and working toward accomplishing what they said they would do. They listen with their eyes and ears. The Authentic Leaders listen to what is and is not said and guide the discussion in a productive and learning way. They listen to motivate direct reports. Effectively listening is motivating to followers because the followers knows they are being listened to and that their ideas, when possible, will be implemented. When you see a great deal of turnover, you know that people realize the leader is Fake. Authentic Leaders – #4: Have the ability to Discern Leaders who have the ability to understand the present situation are capable of knowing what action to take. They understand the actions to take because they are students of the past, present, and future. They intuitively know what is needed and how to address the situation. They understand the history of leadership and can flexibly meet the challenges moving forward in an action-oriented plan that meets the need to solve the present moving toward the future. Authentic Leaders move from the chaos to clarity rather than dealing with the chaos and thriving on chaotic empty promises. Authentic Leaders – #5: Communicate Clearly Authentic Leaders are Influencers, who are capable of having people adopt their ideas because of truth, trust, discernment, character, and are role models for the majority of followers. Being able to communicate effectively so that people respect you is critical to being an Authentic Leader. Authentic Leaders have a clear message and that message does not need to be clarified or managed by second tier leaders. An Inclusive leader is not a deceitful, myopic leader with little to offer once empty promises are exposed. As opposed to Fake Leader who underestimates the difficulty of the present situation and overestimate their abilities to be a leader. Authentic Leaders assess the situation and realize the difficulty and speak with clarity and truth for the well-being of followers. Keep a Scorecard on leaders and measure them against the truth, inclusively and what is best for all. How do your leaders’ rate? The next time you have the opportunity to observe leaders, rate them and see where they score: Fake or Authentic Leader. Then, you have a decision to make as to whom you want to follow! Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC President Gatto Associates LLC. 412 344-2277 (Office) www.rexgatto.com rex@rexgatto.com

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