“Fake It Till You Make It” Isn’t a Leadership Strategy


In the business world, the phrase “fake it till you make it” has often been used as a motivational mantra to encourage individuals to project confidence and competence even in the face of uncertainty. While this mentality may have some merits in certain situations, it is not a viable long-term strategy, particularly for executives who hold critical leadership roles within organizations. Let’s explore a few effects this mentality may have on your success as a leader.

Trust and Credibility

Executives are entrusted with leading organizations, making important decisions, and inspiring their teams. Trust and credibility are the foundation of effective leadership, and they cannot be established on a false premise. If a leader constantly presents themselves as someone they are not or lacks the necessary expertise, it erodes trust among employees, stakeholders, and shareholders. Genuine leadership requires honesty, transparency, and a willingness to admit limitations, which fosters trust and builds credibility over time.

Decision-Making and Strategic Thinking

Executives are responsible for making critical decisions that can have far-reaching consequences for their organizations. A “fake it till you make it” mentality may encourage executives to make decisions based on false pretenses or inadequate knowledge, leading to poor outcomes. Authentic leaders, on the other hand, acknowledge their limitations and surround themselves with knowledgeable individuals, seeking their advice and expertise. This approach promotes sound decision-making and strategic thinking, which are essential for long-term success.

Employee Engagement and Morale

Executives play a pivotal role in setting the tone and culture within an organization. Employees look to their leaders for guidance, inspiration, and a sense of direction. If executives are merely pretending to be competent or knowledgeable, it can create a sense of disillusionment and disengagement among employees. Authentic leadership, characterized by self-awareness, empathy, and a genuine desire to support and develop employees, fosters a positive work environment, encourages collaboration, and boosts morale.

Long-Term Success and Adaptability

Organizations face an ever-evolving business landscape with challenges and opportunities arising constantly. Leaders need to possess the skills and expertise necessary to navigate these complexities effectively. Relying on a “fake it till you make it” mentality can hinder an executive’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Authentic leaders embrace continuous learning, seek feedback, and invest in personal and professional development. By focusing on genuine growth and expertise, executives can better position themselves and their organizations for long-term success.

While the “fake it till you make it” mentality may provide a temporary boost in confidence, it is ill-suited for executives who hold (or aspire to) critical leadership positions. If you want to be seen as an effective and respected leader, authenticity is essential for sustainable success.

LaToya Jordan, Leadership Coach

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