Real Leadership Sketches

April 29, 2013

By now there’s a good chance you’ve seen Dove’s latest ad campaign Real Beauty Sketches. Many of my female friends posted the link to the video below on Facebook, so I finally checked it out. I even shared it myself. Not wanting to get into a discussion on body image, I applauded the merits of a counter-cultural marketing strategy – one that emphasized that the consumer is already good enough just the way they are instead of fatally flawed unless they buy (and then continue to buy) the product.

It wasn’t until a recent comment by Michael Hyatt that I realized the significance this message has for leadership.

It’s been said that the most important attribute a new or inexperienced leader needs is confidence. Many of the people around us are committed, competent, hard-working and intelligent. But that’s not how many of them see themselves.

Where does confidence come from? In their Real Beauty Sketches campaign, Dove went to great creative lengths to communicate to their customers that they are in fact much better than they perceived themselves to be. How often do we communicate the same to those we lead?

This goes beyond simply believing the best, as powerful as that can be. We owe it to those around us to give a voice to their strengths and their potential.

So someone goes into a new project thinking, “I’m not sure that I can.” Then an experienced leader comes alongside and says, “I think you can and here’s why ________. And I’ll be there to help you.” Imagine the difference in performance outcome, growth and future potential.

The people we lead are better than they think. It’s up to us to show them – and then to walk with them.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.