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[Introduction] You're Being Watched: How Everything Leaders Do, Say and Are Sends a Message


“People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.”

- Lewis Rothschild, chief domestic policy advisor, “An American President”

The Key Point:

Sincere leaders – who know that everything they do, say and are communicates something about their sincerity and act upon that knowledge – will have more engaged followers and get exceptional results.

People are starving for sincerity – for something and someone to believe in.

That’s because there’s an epidemic of insincerity out there. Whether it’s fake news or fake photos. Twenty-seven hour celebrity marriages. Reality shows that are anything but. Fine print that’s far too small to read and way too complex to understand. Radio commercials with disclaimers that come so fast our speakers start to smoke. Political scandals and ads that pretzel-twist the truth. Religious scandals where the most trusted become the most wanted. College scandals where the only thing not admitted is the truth. Insider trading that leaves the rest of us feeling like outsiders. Resumes so overinflated, they’re in danger of popping. Not just wallets, but identities being stolen. Slippery advertising words like “virtually” and “water-resistant.” Even product packaging that tells you what you’re seeing isn’t “actual size” when the “actual size” itself is nothing to write home about.

Yes, there’s an epidemic out there, one that can leave people feeling worn out and wrung dry.

As Goes the World, So Goes Business

As you’d imagine, the business world can’t escape this epidemic. It reflects it. Feeds it. Basically, sits smack dab in the middle of it.

In fact, all you have to do is open any “Business” section in the newspaper, or click on any “Financial News” link, to read the latest about a company that got caught doing something wrong, trying its best to “apologize” in a way that doesn’t take accountability.

Oh, yes, as for that apology. It will be chock full of dreaded “corporatese,” another major disease in our epidemic of insincerity. Words like “We apologize if anyone was offended,” and “We’ve reached out to dialogue with the impacted parties.” “Corporatese” – a made-up language of made-up words that makes what happens in town halls and between meeting room walls seem like make-believe.

These scandals, this epidemic, and the fact that people can’t even trust a simple car commercial to tell them what’s real – all lead to people losing trust. And losing trust is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. Because, without trust, we’ve got nowhere to stand, and every tunnel leads down not out.

In these trying times, we need trust. We need a reason to believe.

We need leaders.

The Big Five

This book focuses on five key elements of leadership communication: