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Redefining the Term 'Leader'

If you were to search on Google “how to be a good leader” you’d find roughly 36,200,000 results at your disposal. However, though there are so many best practices available, many are still struggling to become ideal leaders. Why has it become so difficult to implement and follow the practices we’ve established for the making of “great leaders”? From sinking business leads to those who could potentially lead our country, it is clear that a great deal of today’s leaders not yet employed the ethical values or genuine practices of a true thought leaders. Here’s what I believe to be some of the largest flaws seen in today’s thought leaders:

1. Passing the Blame

The first thing poor leaders do in times of trouble is point fingers at someone and wipe their hands clean of their mistake. These are people who would rather put the blame on others than to stand straight and take responsibility because they are more concerned with upholding their reputation. This can be recognized in countless situations. For example, Rick Snyder (Governor of Michigan) and the lead-tainted water supplier, Steve Ells & Montgomery Moran (CEOs of Chipotle) and mass foodborne illnesses – all of where leaders pushed their faults onto others and then later have it backfire.

Instead of shying away from taking responsibility, these leaders should have owned up to what they had done and received the penalty they deserved for their actions. Without doing so themselves, how are they going to teach others to be ethical, take responsibility for their actions? As Arnold H. Glasow once said, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”

2. Expressing Unnecessary Emotions and Comments

Being a thought leader means having a blind eye on race, ethnicity, gender, and religion, and focusing on the capabilities and flaws of your followers. But in many cases, you can see the complete opposite – leaders are using these racists and derogatory comments as a means of gaining popularity because it touches a sensitive nerve for people. This can be seen in how Donald Trump is running his election campaign – many of his mottos and “brilliant ideas” revolve around isolating, removing, or degrading minorities.

Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions, but it is the thought leader’s duty to set aside his or her feelings to work with the people to achieve their goals and act in harmony. Janet Mock, author and television host, utilizes her strengths and connections to assist the struggling transgender community and is building a way to bring back unity. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, allowed refugees and immigrants to stay in Germany as a safe-haven, “I’m surprised at how faint-hearted we sometimes are, and how quickly we lose courage.”

3. It’s Not All About the Money

Money is a powerful thing – it can get you a lot of things – but it is not the greatest asset or goal a leader should possess. Over a dozen studies have discovered and proven that setting money as a priority leads to dishonest behavior, corruption, and a bad influence on the followers. With money being the main motive, the “leader” is leading profit and gain and leaving his or her people behind. This can ultimately negatively impact the people and lead them to believe immoral actions are acceptable. Martin Shkreli, founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, for example, purchased inexpensive lifesaving drugs and resold them for exorbitant amounts of money – roughly 5000% more.

The leader should instead be focusing on driving success with the help of his or her followers – utilizing their strengths, passions (positive ones), and ideas. Money will come wherever there is talent, flexibility, engagement, and appreciation. Therefore, the leader should have his or her focus on the people and how to use their assets to bring forth a positive impact and influence. As Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, Inc., said, “My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.”

"Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize your innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of your team to accomplish the mission. There is no one-size fits all approach, answer key or formula to leadership. Leadership should be the humble, authentic expression of your unique personality in pursuit of bettering whatever environment you are in." – Katie Christy, founder, Activate Your Talent

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