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In the real world leaders do enough of the right things enough of the time but still fall short of the ideal definition of a great leader.  And that’s okay.  The difficulty is that the leader and the staff all expect/hope that s/he will be extraordinary.  We’ve all been brainwashed and then feel horribly disappointed.

Let’s take a step back and get a dose of reality.

There are self-assessments galore to measure leadership effectiveness.  And we all over or under estimate how well we do.  So here’s a questionnaire you can all pass with flying colors.

Answer each of these questions with “true” or “false”.

  1. I spend half of most days in update, planning, project, budget type meetings.
  2. I have more than seven direct reports.
  3. In the past year my boss had zero, one or two review discussions with me.
  4. I doubt that I have articulated an inspiring vision for our company/group.
  5. As much as I want to break down the silos, my leadership team doesn’t collaborate as much as I think we should.
  6. I serve the master of the quarterly results above all others.
  7. I spend more time in the details than I do in the big picture.
  8. In my attempt to balance the short and long term view of things, the near term has more of my attention.
  9. Most days I feel like I’m good at my job.
  10. I feel more depressed than inspired after I read the leading management book.

If you answered “true” to more than half of these questions then you are a bonafide leader in the real world.  And you are probably quite effective in spite of the lack of feedback from your own boss, not following all the best management practices and not spending enough quality time with the people around you.  If you answered “true” to all ten of these questions then it is probably time for a vacation and a zap of new energy because you have entered the doldrums.

So lighten up.  It’s time to acknowledge that you are in the vast majority of real world leaders.  Continue to aspire to ever-greater things but don’t get into unproductive thoughts or actions when you realize that you’re not a textbook case of great leadership.  And the next time you read something that makes it all sound so easy, pick up the phone and invite the author to take your job for six months.  Trust me, you’ll make a convert to GetRealLeadership in no time.

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