Are you a true leader? 5 Unmistakable Symptoms that you are not!

Are you a true leader?

Are you a leader?
Photo: nenovbrothers/ Resource:

Are you just a manager or are you a true leader? As a leader you must focus on

  • people not on transaction
  • Success and not on failure
  • future not on the past

If you are a leader you are a people person. A leader encourages and rewards people. A leader pays attention to people.

Ask yourself the following 5 questions and check if you are a true leader:

1 How do you handle phone calls?

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Do you really give your employees undivided attention?

Assume you have a meeting with one of your employees: Does your employee have your full undivided attention? What if your phone rings? Do you take the call during the conversation?
What’s your answer?

A lot of managers respond:

“It depends who is calling and if it is important!”

Others say:

“No, of course not. I don’t take the call”

You know what a real leader says?

“My phone is never ringing when I am in a meeting with one of my employees. I will always turn it off. Calls are forwarded to my secretary. If it is really important she will let me know.”

How you handle phone calls in a conversation shows if you really are a leader.
So, turn off your smartphone when you are in a conversation – always!

2 How do you handle emails?

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I know managers who process e-mails during meetings on their Smartphone. Are you doing this as well? What is the point of this?

If brain research has taught us anything in recent years it is that multi-tasking is neither effective nor efficient. I can either read my e-mails, or I can participate in the meeting!

If the meeting is not important, why the hell are you as the manager present at the meeting? If the meeting is useless, why not cancel it?

You may say:

“Well, the meeting is important but some emails are important as well! I need to read them!”

What? I assure you: Urgent and important issues will never be sent by e-mail. If someone has an urgent matter for you that is also important, they will always contact you in person, or they will call your secretary.

Believe me: You will not be notified by e-mail if your house is on fire.

3 How do you communicate?

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True leaders inspire their people. How do they do that? True leaders take care that their message is understood. That is the most important key to the success of a business leader. A true leader communicates clearly.

Unfortunately lots of managers talk to their employees like that:

“The financial uncertainty and lack of confidence in the market place has been increasingly challenging, but due to our strategic fit, our synergies achieved and our core competencies we think outside the box to add more value and have a win-win situation with our customers to sequentially leverage our efforts and to improve our bottom line. – Let’s go for it!”

Lots of managers just talk but they don’t really say anything. They use buzzwords to sound intelligent, but in the end it is just boring and blah blah.

A true leader tells it like it is and he gives complete, understandable information. True leaders are specific and they use plain English! They want to be understood.

Clear communication is the most important key to success of business leaders. So to grow into a true leader, you must learn how to be crystal clear in your communication.

Don’t use buzzwords! Be specific and use plain English.

 4 How do you manage your day-to-day tasks?

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How much time do you spend with operative management like administrative stuff, budget controlling, day to day work? Most managers tell me that they spend about 90 % of their time with these operative tasks.

So they only spend 10 % of their time with leadership tasks – with the future of their business, with vision, goals and strategies with talking, informing and inspiring employees.

Why do these managers only have 10 % of their time for leadership? Most of them do not understand how important it is. They do not delegate. They want to be involved and to be in control of everything.

But as a manager you have to delegate most of the operative tasks to your employees. That is why you are a manager. Otherwise you do not have the time for the important tasks: the leadership tasks.

Try to spend at least 50 % of your time with leadership tasks. Therefore, think about which of your daily tasks can you delegate?

  • Do you really need to decide how many pencils your company need to purchase?
  • Do you really need to control all company bills in detail?
  • Do you really need to read and sign every paper?

Don’t be a micromanager, but strive to be a true leader!

5 How do you earn trust?

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Leadership is about trust. But trust has to be earned.

Some managers think their employees will trust them because they are the managers. Other managers behave in a friendly way and talk nicely.They think that this will help them to earn the trust of their employees. – But all of that is nonsense!

The only way you earn trust is by walk the talk! Do what you say you would do, don’t make empty promises. True leaders don’t break their word!

Now, lots of “wanna be” leaders tell me:

“I know that and of course I behave like that: I am a true leader. I always stick with my commitments.”

Really? What’s about that promise you gave to your employees about the 5 % salary increase?

“That is not my fault. My boss in our headquarter refuses to make any salary increases this year.”

Aha, so why did you promise something which is out of your control?

If you want to be a true leader: Don’t take the easy way. Only promise what is under your control and what you can keep.

Work hard to keep your promises all the time – even if the action you promised seems to be not important.

If you promise your employee that you send him an email feedback on Monday, you better make sure that he receives that email on Monday and not on Tuesday morning.

Always keep in mind:

“Most people give trust away slowly but they take it back quickly. It often takes years to build trust and it can take seconds to destroy trust.”

So, if you want to be a true leader:

“Keep your promises – always – even the very small ones! Only make a promise if you can keep it.”


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  • Bernd,
    I really love this series of videos! Very entertaining and
    humorous as well, yet they hit home your key points about leadership. I
    think the production on these is quite good..just curious, how did you
    shoot them?…Were they shot in a studio, or do you just have the right
    post production SW to make them look great? I plan on getting more into
    video myself, but I go the blogger on the edge style: on the fly, one
    take, flip cam or some other small budget way. But then again, I’m more
    of a techhie than a business SME.
    (Also, in my particular field, IT,
    hate to say it but it’s not unheard of for leaders to be constantly
    connected via smartphone…after all, some of us have 24/7/365 uptime
    required…but that’s not your average business situation, I’ll admit.)
    love the vids, and be sure to keep a lookout for our new feature coming
    to BizSugar on the 30th, as it may come in handy.
    ~Heather Stone

    • Bernd Geropp

      Heather, thanks a lot for your nice feedback.

      I am doing the videos on my own. I shoot them at home in my cellar using a Nikon 5100, a tripod and lots of light.The videos are postprocessed with a PC software called PowerDirectory 10. That works well for me, But I have to admit that it takes a lot of time. 

      I have learned a lot about video production from the free stuff Gideon Shalwick puts out at and just recently from some great videos by James Wedmore at Very helpful.

      I am looking forward to the features at BizSugar.
      Thanks Heather.