6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Leader

Leaders are the same as everyone else–they make mistakes, stray from the path and compromise their effectiveness because of ego, pride, or insecurity.

Having served as a leadership coach for more than three decades now, I’ve often seen great men and women not get the respect they deserve as a leader because they don’t understand the reality of their own leadership. Based on their experiences, I have collected some harsh truths that every leader must face before he or she can achieve greatness.

1. A title doesn’t make you a leader.

When you attain a leadership title, it simply gives you the opportunity to become a leader, so don’t mistake it for validation that you’ve already arrived. All a title does is buy you time–time to earn influence or to lose it, to get the job done or to fall short. Understand that titles are not the end but the beginning of leadership.

2. Leaders don’t come with followers.

As a leader, you don’t automatically have followers, only subordinates. It’s your behavior as a leader that determines whether or not those subordinates ever turn into followers. This is an especially harsh truth, but it’s also an important one.

3. Leadership isn’t about position.

For any leader to be effective, they must learn how to perform and get results. Leadership is not about your position but your performance–whatever your role. This small distinction is critical to your success as a leader.

4. Competence isn’t enough.

It’s foolish to think that competence alone can make you a great leader–or a leader at all. Competence is a requirement, but you also need to master a set of key leadership skills–vision, empowerment, and communication–to become a leader others admire and respect.

5. Just because you inherited it, that doesn’t mean you earned it.

Leadership is not genetic. If you inherit a title, it’s up to you to earn the position. That may mean working even harder than you’d have to otherwise. Set your privilege aside and focus on what you can do for your team.

6. Authority doesn’t make you a leader.

Many positions involve some degree of authority–police officer, judge, teacher, coach, parent. But even for people in those positions, leadership is not about authority or power. It is instead cultivated through character, competence, consistency, and compassion–traits that allow you to earn influence. And influence, not authority, is the foundation of successful leadership.

The bottom line is this: In order to become the kind of leader you aspire to be, you need to first understand and learn to live with some harsh truths. Once you make them part of your reality, you’ll be on the path to becoming a better leader.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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