Stop Killing Your Influence – Being Real Versus Being Right

I once led a sales team of high-performance experts. To be honest, I had a lot of pride and ego tied up in being their leader. So much so that I went out of my way to prove I deserved to be their leader. I wanted to prove I was intelligent and innovative. Unfortunately, my perfectionistic approach to leadership was killing my influence.

Being Real Versus Being Right

In his best-selling book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle, author Brad Lomenick says, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right. Don’t try to be a perfect leader; just work on being an authentic one.” Authenticity is an influence builder.

It’s tempting to think that being perfect will make people like us when we don’t really like people who appear perfect. Since we know we are not perfect, being around someone who appears perfect makes us feel inferior. I don’t know about you, but I am not influenced positively by people who make me feel inferior.

Steps to Becoming More Authentic

The first step in becoming more real is to understand your strengths and weaknesses. The more aware you are of where you are strong and where you are not, the more authentic you will come across to others.

Another characteristic of authentic people is they share openly about their struggles, challenges, and setbacks. They are vulnerable around the people on their team. This vulnerability displays courage and promotes an empathetic communication style that pulls people toward you, not pushing them away.

Leaders often face the temptation to armor up instead of open up when opening up might make them appear less than perfect. Armoring up is a form of hiding your authenticity and is an influence killer. One way to increase your tendency to open up is to develop a daily practice of self-reflection. When you reflect on the strengths and struggles of your day, you increase your compassion for the struggles that others may be having.

Living Your Values

Authentic people are clear on their personal values and live them out every day. Your values drive your behavior. If you value honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, etc., you are more likely to put forth the real you, not the perfect you.

A growth mindset is also a characteristic authentic people exhibit. If you have a growth mindset, you do not think you have already arrived—you know it’s a journey, and you are still growing and learning. Remaining teachable helps you lower your perfectionistic shield and be open to learning and experiencing new things.

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.