What is leadership? What makes for a good leader? There's a lotof advice in books but that's all it is -- advice. Two people canread a book on leadership, but neither will become a great leadersimply by reading the book. There's something intangible thatseparates a good leader from someone simply "in charge of things."So, in an informal poll (read: having lunch with several people), Iput the question out there and tried to capture the essence of atrue leader. I was glad to see that my colleagues in this industryagreed with me that my sense of a leadership vacuum was not just afigment of my imagination. This is what my colleagues and industrypartners told me.

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Sincerity - The majority of the feedback I received was thatpeople need their leaders to be believable. Often, the sense is anoft-delivered message becomes so packaged that it sounds like asales pitch. Politics immediately comes to mind because sound bytesand canned responses ring hollow. In business, it's the buzzwords.Maybe at one time, it made the leader sound professional andsophisticated. Today, buzzwords seem more like a safety net whenthe leader doesn't know the answer.

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Authenticity – When I first heard this comment, I thought thismeant that larger-than-life leaders were somehow cold andunapproachable and therefore did not come across as sincere. Afterprobing a bit, I realized that my colleagues were talking about atrust issue. Related to, but quite different than sincerity,authenticity means that the words match the actions and theleader's humanness is reflected in their approach to people. Peoplewant leadership that is affected by the problems of theorganization and invigorated by the promise of the future. Anythingelse is cheerleading.

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Love – This one really threw me. I had to pry here to get to theunderlying meaning. After all, you don't see a lot of love in theworkplace. Well, at least I don't! What I discovered was that love,for the individuals that mentioned it, actually equaled safety.People gravitate towards leaders with whom they feel safe. If theenvironment of the workplace is nurturing, safe and collaborative,natural leadership will emerge that reflects the environment. Ifthe workplace is not one of love, the environment will be repletewith insincerity and a visible, palpable lack of authenticity.

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Frankly, I was surprised by this feedback. I didn't get what Iexpected from the Corporate Real Estate professionals and serviceproviders I interviewed. I expected to hear words like drive,ambition, vision, and energy. While these are traits that areconsidered admirable, without sincerity, authenticity and love,there's no point being a leader because wherever you're going,you'll be going alone.

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Vik Bangia is anindependent corporate real estate outsourcing expert, managementconsultant and business strategist. The views expressed in thisarticle are the author's own.

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