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drjvm - core values

Be Honest. Be open. Be fearless. Be humble. Be real.

The Human Leader

Be Real

Over 5 posts, we explore the “Be” statements that comprise the core values of The Human Leader.

In this final installment of our core values we look at Be Real.

Charlatan: a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.

synonyms: quack, sham, fraud, fake, impostor, hoaxer, cheat, deceiver, double-dealer, swindler, fraudster, mountebank;

informal: phony, shark, con man,con artist, scam artist, flimflammer, bunco artist, snake oil salesman;
dated: confidence man/confidence woman
example: “the shallow promise of a charlatan selling snake oil”

Wow, we certainly have a lot of synonyms the English language for phony people. And that doesn’t even cover the “unofficial” ones like telemarketer, internet guru, or politician (Just kidding… sort of ;-)). I would be willing to guess that almost every language has a similar number of different words and phrases for shysters (ooh, there’s another synonym).

Yes, there are times when, as a leader, you have to “fake it ’til you make it” or act “as if”, and that is totally ok. In a future post, we can discuss those aspects of leadership and why that is not being fake or phony, as well as how to Be Real even when you are acting “as if.” Today, however, we focus on how to Be Real as a leader.

Capstone On The Four Pillars

It is fitting that the final core value of The Human Leader is Be Real, because Be Real is like a capstone that rests atop the other four core values. As in a Roman or Greek colonnade, you must have the four pillars of Be Honest, Be Open, Be Fearless and Be Humble set firmly in place to support Be Real.

doric columns

Be Real is about authenticity.  Don’t be fake, don’t be phony, don’t put on a false front. Be genuinely who you are. Like the capstone, it is an overarching character trait that both depends on, and covers the four pillars.

It should go without saying that if you can’t Be Honest, about yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your triumphs and your failures, then you can’t really be authentic (And yes, I just said it even though it should go without saying).

And to get to that degree of honesty, you have to Be Open to feedback in all areas of your life: personal, professional, internal and external. Fully open to receiving the feedback, albeit with some boundaries. Now, I realize that fully open with boundaries may seem like a contradiction, so let me explain. The boundaries around Be Open are about who you are open to, not the type of feedback you are open to.

As every leader knows, there are plenty of people ready to tell you everything you are lacking in your leadership even though they know nothing about you or your situation. You have a responsibility to only Be Open to those people that you know and trust, not every person who has a criticism about you. And I say a responsibility because if you do not set boundaries around who gets a voice in your leadership, you get stuck in trying to respond to everyone about everything all the time. To those who have earned that right to speak into your life and leadership, however, you are fully open.

To get to such a degree of openness, you must Be Fearless in facing that feedback. Not all the feedback will be accurate, and as a leader you have to discern what is accurate and what is not. However, you listen carefully to trusted advisors, grow your strengths, embrace your negative aspects and fearlessly strive to overcome weaknesses.

Finally, you have to Be Humble to hear feedback openly and to not get so proud of yourself that you think your success was all due to you alone.  You have to Be Humble to hear what others are telling you about yourself and areas for improvement. And, to be blunt, it is so much more rewarding to see someone humbly yet happily celebrate their success rather than a cocky, in your face, type of celebration.

Those four core value pillars all support the ability to Be Real. And Be Real covers and protects the four pillars as well. When you are real and comfortable with yourself, you develop an inner core confidence that allows you to be honest, open, fearless, and humble.  You know who and what you are and you are able to handle the things that life and leadership throw at you.  You can live authentically and vulnerably while leading and living strongly and confidently.

So there you have it. The five core values of The Human Leader. Or, if you prefer, the four pillars and capstone. I’ve spent the last several posts talking about what those are. Next, it is time to hear from you, the awesome leaders and readers who have joined me on this journey.  You can definitely comment below, and I will be sending out a survey in a couple of weeks (taking next week off for family time) to hear from you what you need or want from me.  Look for that, and I hope you’ll take the time to complete it when it comes. I am here to serve you, the leader, and provide information and resources to help you be a better leader.


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