Beware of these 5 Fake Leadership Costumes

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A lot of what passes for leadership can often be nothing more than simply wearing a leadership costume. But authentic leadership isn’t about what you show on the outside; it’s about who you are on the inside.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a hilarious routine about being given a Superman costume for a Halloween present.

Reading the box, he was surprised to read the disclaimer, “Do not attempt to fly!”

“I love the idea of the kid who’s stupid enough to think he really is Superman,” Seinfeld muses, “but smart enough to check that box before he goes off the roof.”


Thinking that by merely putting on the right costume it could somehow magically transform you.

And yet some people think that’s how leadership works.

They’ve seen the costume and believe that if they simply put it on then they too will be magically transformed into a leader.

In honor of Halloween, here are 5 common costumes leaders can be tempted to wear…

1.   Bossy-ness

Simply barking out orders doesn’t make you a leader.

Usually it just makes a person a bit obnoxious.

2.   Busy-ness

Some people actually believe that by darting frantically from one disjointed activity to another, it must mean they are a great leader.

Often it means only that the person is either unfocused or a poor time manager.

 3.   Distracted-ness

This costume is worn by the person who keeps their smart phone on ready alert, even when they’re in a conversation with you. At the slightest vibration their attention is immediately diverted away from you and onto their device.

That’s no indication of leadership. Really, it’s just poor manners.

 4.   Crankiness

Some people actually believe that simply by taking on a frustrated disposition it indicates that they must be carrying huge leadership responsibilities.

Actually, it just creates a toxic culture for the team.

 5.   Talky-ness

While it’s true that effective leaders are good communicators, some people get this one all wrong. They believe that they can be a leader simply by being able to talk…and talk…and talk…and talk…and talk…

But anyone can talk. Leaders, on the other hand, communicate. Huge difference.

So, what does an authentic leader wear in place of these costumes? For starters,

  • Humility

  • Service

  • Integrity

  • Tenacity

  • Results


Wear these qualities with dignity.

And avoid the pretense of simply wearing a leadership costume.


the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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