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Trump’s Unlikely Lesson on Leadership

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While the Donald is fond of telling us, in essence, “what got me rich will fix America,” his polling popularity is reminding us of something powerful about leadership itself: Be authentic–drop the game face, masks, and caring too much about what others think. Come clean and say what you believe and people will follow you.

If “authenticity” strikes you as an overused buzzword, look no further than Trump’s surging poll numbers to grasp its raw power.

Despite being flawed and offensive to some, Trump says–repeatedly–what he means without trying to please anyone else.

Love or hate his positions on issues, you know where he stands and why.

Don’t get me wrong–being inflammatory, infamous, or vapidly compelling isn’t leadership, particularly if the leader’s vision is in some way damaging to people, their values, and/or the needs of the majority. That said, in an almost Rain Man-like manner, Trump reminds us that authenticity powerfully connects people hungry for true leadership with the ideas of those who may lead.

So whether you’re a seasoned executive, emerging leader, or even a presidential hopeful, it’s important for you to consider a few things on a daily basis: a) what needs saying that you’re avoiding saying, b) what you ARE saying that is somehow misaligned with what you believe, and c) which things you tell your closest friends and allies are just what those you wish to lead need to hear from you.

Authentic leaders put what they believe to be true at the top of their list, and then adapt those ideas to the absorption styles and rates of others. Less authentic leaders put agendas first, and then attempt to spin their messages into webs of influence. Not so compelling.

What are you holding back? Synchronizing what you say with your principles makes your messages powerful and honest, and that enables you to inspire others to do their best on your behalf.

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