The finesse of leadership

The finesse of leadership 31

Early in my career, a saleswoman told me that to succeed in the corporate world, I needed to fake it until I made it. Forgive my naivety but this was the first time I had ever heard of that phrase. Even to my young ears it sounded phony at best and hypocritical at worst. What bothered me the most was the “fake it” bit of the phrase. However, to give her the benefit of doubt, I asked her what this meant. Apparently faking it till you make it means projecting an air of success so that people can think that you are the bees’ knees, and hopefully this will open doors for you. The erstwhile saleswoman had a brand-new car, wore clothes with the right labels, ate at the right restaurants and knew the right people.

To a very small extent, there is merit in saying that we are drawn to people who are dressed well. It increases one’s executive presence. In particular, leaders who are impeccably clad command respect and inspire confidence to lead and to manage an organisation. However, this cannot be done superficially. Aura emanates from the inside out. Therein lies the fallacy of faking it till you make it; fakes can be sniffed from a mile.

And while on the subject of leaders and leadership, ‘fakeness’ outs sooner than later. You can have the fanciest of titles, your company may have the catchiest of taglines, but ultimately, your workers will rat you out. Why? To quote Sunny Bindra, “It may be a great thing to have your employees looking happy all the time, but you can’t fake it. It just doesn’t work. If any business wants its business to be founded on employee happiness, those employees need actually to be happy. It cannot be done by edict; it cannot be a performance requirement; it cannot be demanded.” The full article can be found at

So, how are leaders to really succeed? The answer lies in being genuine, hence finesse – that the outer should reflect the inner person. In short, comportment. This calls for leaders exploring their whole totality as human beings by pursuing their other hobbies and interests beyond the office, spending quality time with their loved ones, developing their full potential, deriving purpose from the everyday, and generally being true to themselves.

Further, a leader has to be a reader. This is so as books are distilled wisdom from others with a diverse array of insights, perspectives and knowledge. When it comes to matters reading, a good place to get inspiration is to join a book club. Such a good book club pushes one away from one’s comfort zone in matters reading – perhaps being slanted towards a certain genre – hence being exposed to a widening horizon. Plus, friendships whose seed is the word are bound to last a lifetime.

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