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.

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.

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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