Dance With The Girl Who Brung Ya!

Leaders inspire trust when they are genuine.

Many of you who know me, realize this is one of my favorite sayings. It comes from Darrell Royal, the Texas University Football Coach who led the Longhorns to the National Collegiate Football title in 1969.

Darrell grew up in Oklahoma as did my good friend Don Beck and there are some really good stories between the two of them.

Colloquialisms aside, the reason I wanted to write about this topic is that so much of what you see and hear today is about relativism. While I'm the first one to ask about things like this when I lead...I'm starting to realize that this may be a flawed strategy.

Here's why we don't need to try to craft our leadership to the crowd.

The most important thing in leadership is probably trust. Of course, there are many more essential things because trust fits the necessary but not sufficient condition. Yet, trust is probably going to be necessary.

What happens in relativistic situations is what happened to John Kerry in the 2004 election race. He was everything to everyone, so he wasn't enough to anyone. In other words, he was what you wanted him to be, but no one knew really where he stood on the issues.

I was reading this article today about a person who was asked to give a speech impromptu. They said that even though the audience wasn't people they normally talk to, so he just did what he really knew..."he danced with the girl how brung him."

He said when he got through, that he got a standing ovation and that afterwards he had a lot of people want more information. He indicated that he tried to customize his talk to this group, he would not have known what to say because they were so different than his normal clientele.

After reading it, I realized this had real implications for leaders.

People can see through your relativism and your attempts to customize your leadership to them. This is in vogue now, with all the Emotional Intelligence Jazz going round, and people aren't dancing with the girls who brung them, they are just dancing with everyone who asks them to dance.

While this may appear "advanced emotionally" it takes you directly out of your strengths and into playing games with your weaknesses. You'd be far better off to be authentic and wrong, then relativistic and mediocre in my view.

What really is key is knowing who you are.

Then it's a matter of saying yes to the right issues and no to the one's that are out of your ballpark.

As complex a world as it is today, it's impossible to be all things to all people and trying to be is going to cause people not to trust you. Even if you're flat wrong, at least if people know you're genuine, they are going to have trust in you.

"Dance with the girl who brung you."

To Self-Knowledge!

Still time to reach my inner circle….

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