Faking It vs. Leading It

Here is a collection of tweets that contrasts the difference between pretend-leaders and actual leaders. Pretend leaders act for the benefit of themselves; true leaders act for the benefit of those they lead.


Faking it: Having aides “walk back” inflammatory remarks

Leading it: Speaking coherently, concisely and with consistency


Faking it: Surrounding yourself with people who cheer your every word.

Leading it: Engage with people who disagree to find mutual benefits.


Faking it: Bloviating. Bragging. Boasting.

Leading it: Letting your deeds speak for themselves.


Faking it: Deny reality.

Leading it: Confront reality.


Faking it: Surrounding yourself with people who talk about how smart you are

Leading it: Making it safe for people to disagree with you.


Faking it: Saying everything is fine because you say it is

Leading it: Looking for problems and finding them so you can mobilize solutions


Faking it: Peddling untruths to obfuscate reality

Leading it: Telling the truth… even when it hurts.


Faking it: Questioning the motives of those who criticize

Leading it: Investigating the reasons for criticism


Faking it: Conflating activity with productivity

Leading it: Holding people accountable for results


Faking it: Pitting direct-reports against one another

Leading it: Expecting direct-reports to cooperate, coordinate & collaborate


Faking it: Using confrontation to bully everyone who disagrees with you

Leading it: Confronting problems that threaten to erode integrity


Faking it: Blaming others for mistakes that occur on your watch

Leading it: Accepting responsibility for actions of others you supervise


Faking it: Believing that temperament is “winning.”

Leading it: Knowing that temperament is demeanor and deportment.


Faking it: Considering “shooting from the lip” a sign of strength

Leading it: Choosing words carefully because they have consequences


Faking it: Expecting people to “owe” you their loyalty

Leading it: Earning loyalty by treating people with respect


Faking it: Radiating desperate insecurity with every insult

Leading it: Ignore the “noise.” Focus on the work.


Faking it: Acting tough for the sake of expediency.

Leading it: Using a moral compass as your guide.


Faking it: I am the solution to YOUR problem.

Leading it: We are the solutions to OUR problems.


Faking it: One step forward, two steps back. Half-step forward.

Leading it: One step forward, one step back. Two steps ahead.


Faking it: Promoting yourself in front of people who serve you

Leading it: Honoring the people who make you and your organization succeed.


Faking it: Invoking a higher power in whose values you do not abide

Leading it: Making certain your example reflects values of higher power


Faking it: Talking up your personal success

Leading it: Praising the good work of your team


Faking it: Obsessing over trivia while ignoring the big picture

Leading it: Focusing on the big picture and ignoring distractions


Faking it: Punching back at every criticism, no matter how trivial

Leading it: Ignoring “noise” because you value comportment


Faking it: Fixating on feuds and “getting even”

Leading it: Focusing on doing the job right


Faking it: Attack the messenger when faced with bad news

Leading it: Deal with bad news by finding solutions


Faking it: Creating distractions that turn focus away from problems

Leading it: Focusing on real problems and ignoring distractions


Faking it: Promoting rumor and innuendo but crying foul if turned against you

Leading it: Speaking the truth or saying nothing at all


Faking it: Becoming unglued at the first hint of crisis

Leading it: Radiating calm because your people expect you to be strong


Faking it: Focusing on yourself because that’s all you know.

Leading it: Thinking big. Challenging your people to do even bigger.


Faking it: Wasting time on getting even with “enemies”

Leading it: Focusing on what you can do for those you lead to make things better

Faking it: Expecting people to support you after you incited hatred

Leading it: Earning the support through your example and actions


Faking it: Using humiliation as a weapon against the weak

Leading it: Practicing humility as a virtue


Faking it: Believing that you can buy loyalty

Leading it: Understanding that loyalty is earned through example


Faking it: Worrying about the size of the decorations on the cake

Leading it: Making certain everyone has his/her piece OF the cake


Faking it: Worrying about personal slights because you are focused on image

Leading it: Focusing your energy on making a positive difference


Faking it: Putting personal interest ahead of the organization

Leading it: Understanding that conflicts of interest ARE conflicts.


Faking it: Talking tough to cover deep insecurities

Leading it: Projecting confidence because you who you are and what you can do


Faking it: Believing you are the solution for every problem

Leading it: Putting strong people into positions to do their best


Faking it: Make every issue about yourself

Leading it: Be accountable for your actions… and their consequences


Faking it: Blustering to hide deep insecurities

Leading it: Radiating confidence that comes from a centered-self


Faking it: Gloating in triumph becuz you think it makes you strong

Leading it: Exercising magnanimity over a defeated foe becuz it’s right


Faking it: Using your authority to make things difficult for those who cannot fight back

Leading it: Standing up for rights of all


Faking it: Refusing to change course because you put ego ahead of truth

Leading it: Acknowledging change when reality dictates it


Faking it: Believing that autocracy is leadership

Leading it: Knowing that our Founders fought a Revolution against autocracy



Faking it: Aligning yourself with people of questionable ethics

Leading it: Understanding that integrity is the foundation of trust


Faking it: Believing that talking tough is the same as being tough

Leading it: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”


Faking it: Embracing suspect POVs that disrupt governance

Leading it: Understand that logic and reason are the foundation of governance


Faking it: Dismissing facts that conflict with your POV

Leading it: Understanding that opinions can change; facts do not


Faking it: Believing that ignorance is defensible

Leading it: Firing people who hide behind their ignorance


Faking it: Acting the role of expert when it is clear you are winging it

Leading it: Surrounding yourself w/people who know more than you


Faking it: Deny, deny, deny

Leading it: Seeking and promoting the truth. Always.



Faking it: Making excuses to assuage your ego

Leading it: Working to get thing right because others depend upon your actions


Faking it: Believing what you say is reality

Leading it: Understanding that your assumptions may be just that… assumptions.


Faking it: Talking what you say rather than what you do

Leading it: Letting your actions speak louder than your words


Faking it: Believing that power makes you smart

Leading it: Sharing information becuz you know that power shared is power gained


Faking it: Stating you know more about the issues than anyone

Leading it: Questioning assumptions that challenge your POV


Faking it: Looking down on those you are supposed to lead

Leading it: Looking forward to bringing people together because you are a leader


Faking it: Praising a rival who breaks the law

Leading it: Regarding those who break the law as criminals… plain and simple
Faking it: Praising people who feed your ego

Leading it: Surrounding yourself with those who will speak truth to power


Faking it: Believing that flattery means people believe in you

Leading it: Understanding that flattery is just noise… and to be ignored


Faking it: Insisting your POV supersedes facts

Leading it: Believing that facts are not opinions


Faking it: Talking up what you did for the team

Leading it: Shining the spotlight on those who do the work


Faking it: Talking tough because you think it makes you strong

Leading it: Letting your bold actions speak for themselves


Faking it: Using fear to stir dissension

Leading it: Working hard to bring people together for common cause


Faking it: Hiring people who are unqualified but who profess loyalty

Leading it: Promoting people who are competent and can do the job right


Faking it: Dismissing the need for apology because you think it makes you weak

Leading it: Making amends to those you have harmed


Faking it: Quibbling over details especially when you are offended

Leading it: Focusing on the big picture and the hell with everything else


Faking it: Finding blame for others when things go wrong

Leading it: Finding solutions in order to fix problems


Faking it: Denigrating your opponents because you think it makes you stronger

Leading it: Seeking to build bridges to those who oppose you


Faking it: Gloating because you think it makes you look stronger

Leading it: Getting down to business because it’s your job


Faking it: Avoiding responsibility by deflecting and distracting

Leading it: Being accountable always


Faking it: Dismissing news you don’t like as “false”

Leading it: Pursuing the truth because some issues transcend individuals


Faking it: Talking about how “smart” you are

Leading it: Letting your actions speak for your intelligence


Faking it: Promoting people who flatter you

Leading it: Hiring people who speak truth to power


Faking it: Equating grandstanding with governing

Leading it: Understanding that leadership is more than playing to an audience


Faking it: Disregarding a reality that does not conform to your world view

Leading it: Embracing truth when in conflict with your POV


Faking it: Boasting about what you have achieved

Leading it: Praising the accomplishments of others


Faking it: “Punching down” at the “little people” who criticize you

Leading it: Upholding the rights of all people … even your critics


Faking it: Putting “fact-free zealots” into positions of power

Leading it: Insisting that executives understand reality and its consequences


Faking it: Believing whatever you say is the “truth”

Leading it: Understanding that leadership w/o truth is a lie


Faking it: Surrounding yourself with people who never challenge you

Leading it: Demanding that people challenge your assumptions


Faking it: Showing off so you get credit for “everything”

Leading it: Making a positive difference without seeking credit for anything


Faking it: Saying a bully is “different” in private

Leading it: Understanding that a bully with manners is still a bully


Faking it: Embracing someone whom you condemned b/c they lacked integrity

Leading it: Living your values even when it makes you “unpopular”


Faking it: Parading job candidates in front of the cameras as a means of showing off

Leading it: Keep job interviews private until hiring



Faking it: Complaining when you are criticized.

Leading it: Learning from feedback so you can improve.



Faking it: Celebrating a win by praising yourself

Leading it: Marking victory by lauding the contributions of others


Faking it: Putting principles aside when they are “inconvenient”

Leading it: Living by your principles when they are hard to abide


Faking it: Failing to recognize when it’s time to step down

Leading it: Grooming your successor and making a graceful handoff


Faking it: Enjoying the title w/o earning responsibility that accompanies it

Leading it: Embracing responsibility without care for a title


Faking it: Making things up to make your own reality

Leading it: Making certain you have your facts straight



Faking it: Changing your opinion because you want to be liked

Leading it: Standing up for your principles even when others disagree with you


Faking it: Using ignorance as an excuse for action

Leading it: Understanding the issues and then acting


Faking it: Thinking the media’s job is to report how great you are

Leading it: Believing the media’s job is to hold leaders accountable


Faking it: Being thin-skinned because you think the world owes you respect

Leading it: Earning respect because you set a positive example


Faking it: Believing flattery is sincere appreciation

Leading it: Knowing that flattery is nothing more than sucking up


Faking it: Acting as if you are unopposed

Leading it: Stepping aside to let new voices be heard


Faking it: Taking credit for something others did without you

Leading it: Sharing credit with those who did the work


Faking it: Saying that people who promote racist views are good colleagues

Leading it: Disavowing the views of those who traffic in hate


Faking it: Pretending that bigotry and sexism is normal politics

Leading: Standing up for rights of all… even those with whom you disagree


Faking it: Pointing fingers when things don’t go your way

Leading it: Owning the consequences of your actions


Faking it: Lying because you think it makes you smart

Leading it: Telling the truth even when it hurts you


Faking it: Using anger to promote division and discord

Leading it: De-escalating anger to promote justice and understanding



Faking it: Reject everything that does not conform to your POV

Leading it: Seeking to understand what is foreign to your POV



Faking it: Embracing ideas of fear, rejection and hatred

Leading it: Living values of integrity, trust and dignity


Faking it: Your aides apologize for your mistakes

Leading in: You apologize for your own mistakes


Faking it: Seeing the world from your own personal perspective

Leading it: Seeing the world how others view it, too.


Faking it: Boasting that you have all the answers

Leading it: Knowing you need counsel of people smarter than yourself


Faking it: Failing to learn from mistakes

Leading it: Embracing mistakes as learning experiences


Faking it: Making things up as you go to make yourself look important

Leading it: Remembering that words and actions have consequences


Faking it: Talking more than you do.

Leading it: Doing more than you speak.


Faking it: Talking tough to people who cannot protect themselves

Leading it: Standing up for the rights of those most in need of protection


Faking it: Bragging about what you do

Leading it: Honoring the service of others


Faking It: Claiming you have all the answers

Leading It: Soliciting the advice and counsel of others


Faking it: Ignoring bad behavior of followers

Leading it: Rebuking bad behavior of followers


Faking It: Deflect, Deny, Denigrate

Leading: Transparent, Truthful, Trusted [10.30.16]