Don't 'act' like a leader


Cate Blanchett is an academy award-winning actress. Why? Because she doesn’t look like she is acting. She looks completely natural in any role she undertakes and we accept her in that role even though we know she is an actress. To convincingly portray yourself as something you are not takes real talent and Cate Blanchett, after years of dedication to her craft, has it in spades. None of the CEO’s I have ever met are Cate Blanchett and none of them have dedicated themselves to the discipline of acting like she has and yet they all seem to think that they have similar acting talent.

Unfortunately, many of our CEO’s seem to have in their heads that there is a certain way they are supposed to look and a certain way they are supposed to sound that is in keeping with their role. Sadly, because they are not Cate Blanchett, they walk around for years doing a really poor impression of whatever it is that is in their heads and then wonder why they are ineffective in their communication and their leadership. They keep trying to be something they are not and, as a result, lack authenticity.

There are only two kinds of people who can completely and convincingly change their communication style depending on who they are talking to. One group is the highly skilled (Academy Award winning actresses, World Champions of Public Speaking, that kind of thing) and the other are sociopaths. Now, if you are a sociopath rest assured that I am not making any moral judgments… I just prefer to be paid up front. If you are neither of those two types of people then acting is not an option.

Your only option is to be yourself. That means there is no such thing as a “customer hat” or “manager hat” or negotiator hat” and there is no role to play. It’s just you. I know much of what you say is shaped by your role but it still has to be you – that’s why people keep talking about “authentic” leadership. When it comes to communication and leadership it is just like everything else in your life – your best bet is to go with the guy who got you there. Be yourself and be real.

Don't 'act' like a leader - be one.

Brett Rutledge