All Articles Leadership Careers Do you have to "fake it" to succeed?

Do you have to “fake it” to succeed?

3 min read


The higher you go in any organization, the more the leadership culture tends to solidify around you.

This increases — or decreases — the chances that you’ll fit in. Too many fast trackers see this as a reason to conform to the culture around them, and thus too many end up feeling like they’re faking it and becoming inauthentic. Inauthentic leaders alienate the very people they’re trying to motivate. They also set themselves up for leadership failure and personal disappointment as they move farther away from an authentic leadership presence, one that motivates both themselves and the people they work with.

Don’t be “that guy,” the one who fakes it and fails.

Of course this advice can be easier said than done when you’re working in a culture that really challenges your authentic self. There are two strategies to pursue when you find yourself in this kind of job:

  1. Let the culture challenge you to expand your authentic style in order to be more effective.
  2. Look more deeply into who you are, going to the core of your character in a way that helps you intentionally highlight the most unique and motivating parts of your authentic personality in your leadership style.

When you identify your authentic personality, you’ll start shaping your personal brand more intentionally and powerfully, and you’ll know what kind of business culture you’ll thrive in. At this point, two things can happen:

  1. You might find your company’s existing culture valuing you more deeply because now you value yourself more.
  2. You’ll know clearly what kind of culture will support you personally so you can excel.

If it’s where you are, great! If not, when you move on, you’ll be more likely to find a good fit in a culture that encourages you to really thrive.

To do this, you have to delve beneath the MBA-speak about leadership and values we usually hear and go to the core of what makes you uniquely and authentically human. You have to go beyond “character” and find “the character” that you personally resonate with most genuinely. Watch this video for greater insight into this approach.


If you’re intrigued with how to learn more about the stories and characters that you resonate with personally, and how to bring them into your leadership style and personal brand, accept this invitation to a complimentary webinar and receive a free personality assessment when you register. Find out whether you’re the Jester or the King — or another character who will tap you into your most powerful leadership strengths.

Dana Theus is president and CEO of InPower Consulting, creating business cultures by design, and is a regular contributor to SmartBlog on Leadership. Follow her on Twitter @DanaTheus and on LinkedIn.