This past summer when we visited Los Angeles, my daughter and I decided to take a tour of the Warner Brothers Studio.  One of the areas of the tour was the “Streets and Buildings” section. This section of the tour took us up and down streets on the grounds of the studio with buildings that were “sets” for many of our favorite TV shows.

While I knew each building was just a “prop,” seeing it up close reinforced my notion of the great facade within TV shows.  You might be saying, “Duh, really?  You did not know that?”  Well, yes I did, but to see it up close makes you realize just how real, “fake” can be.

The same can be said with leadership.  Often, leadership is nothing more than a facade, providing a face that appears to have it all together.  As we continue to live our lives in leadership positions, and the more mature we grow in that, we should begin to see how many fake, masked leaders are in roles that end up causing more harm than good.

How can we tell the difference? How do we see beyond the facade that “fakes everyone out?” What is really “behind the scenes?”  To answer these questions, we must look at the actions, and then hear the words to see if they connect.


I believe leaders who wear a mask do the following…

Fail to speak the truth

Masked leaders swallow the truth.  They speak what they think is best to cover themselves.  When this happens, they also swallow their integrity, self-respect, and most of all their authenticity.

Want to be “blenders”

Masked leaders want to be whatever they think they need to be for whatever environment they are in. They change their leadership style to accommodate and blend into every new crowd.

Find it hard to apologize

Masked leaders find it very hard to apologize. Either they do not, or they deflect with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Are “copycats”

Masked leaders who “copycat” other leaders cannot be themselves. I believe this is one of the more dangerous characteristics of leadership. People want a real leader.

Promote their “perfectionism”

Masked leaders cannot handle situations where no one agrees with them. It causes them to feel rejected. Believing that your leadership is perfect actually stems from the fear of knowing that it is not.

Shine their “light” too bright

Masked leaders never dim their light. They always want to be seen as the brightest in the room. Having their light the brightest automatically dims anyone else’s light that actually could shine brightly.

When you wear a mask, you rob not only yourself of what you could be, but you rob others of their ability to be who they are around you. If you are wearing a mask, please lose it.  Halloween should only come one time a year, and life is not an everyday masquerade ball.

©2018 J Clay Norton


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