Being a genuine leader means balancing optimism and action with high self-awareness. Here’s how the diary of a genuine leader might look.

10/01/2005: Finally got board approval for the business plan for 2005. We have some severe stretch targets this year. On top of my mistake in taking the risk of introducing the new product line, it has been a tough sell for us to convince the board we know what we are doing. I guess I can’t blame them.

15/02/2005: The management meeting today started out poorly. We did not seem to be making much progress on our projects and I was concerned about it impacting our ability to meet our year end targets. I voiced my concerns and asked for suggestions for getting better traction on our projects. There were a number of good ideas; we settled on getting a facilitator to challenge our prioritisation and resource allocation process.

28/02/2005: A great day all round, I think. We realised that we were actually trying to do too much at once and stretching our resources too thin. We have agreed to delay some projects which are not going to directly deliver on this year’s targets.

24/04/2005: Internal audit delivered their report today. We were all stunned to find out that our process for bank reconciliation was open to fraud. We set up an emergency project team to deal with it. I asked the audit guys to stay on to help us develop the project plan.

26/05/2005: The board were not happy with the internal audit report today. I could only offer a “mea culpa” on the adverse findings and then outline what we have done with audit helping to close the issue off. The board agreed to complete a formal risk management strategy to uncover and treat other risks we are not aware of.

30/06/2005: I was interviewed unprepared by the media today. I don’t know what they will make of it. I guess I won’t have long to find out.

01/07/2005: The press did a good number on my ramblings. The story does not look good for us as an organisation. I will make sure I complete that Handling the Media training. I don’t want to be unprepared and unable to handle an interview again.

05/07/2005: Began our planning for 2006 with a brainstorming session today. The guys are going away to flesh out a plus or minus 30% cost for the projects we dreamt up.

11/07/2005: The results at half year are still not what we need. The potential is that we will not meet our year end targets. The problem appears to be in marketing in that we are not getting enough qualified leads and those we are getting are not spending as much as planned.

I spoke to Tom, our marketing manager on how he felt about the results and marketing’s contribution. He is embarrassed and feels that he needs to develop an email campaigning system to pre-qualify leads before his guys visit them, but he does not have the budget to do it.

13/07/2005: We held an emergency management meeting today and carved out a budget for Tom’s email marketing system to pre-qualify leads. Tom knows that his reputation is on the line as the other guys had to give up some of their budget for this year. Tom says he can have it operating in two weeks. That gives his team four months to turn the marketing effort around.

30/08/2005: My cousin’s wife applied to join the company today. My cousin wanted me to help her out. I told him that I could not help and she would have to go through the application process like everyone else.

20/09/2005: Looks like Tom’s email marketing programme may be working. We asked if he needed more help. He thinks he is OK with what he has got. I made it clear that his reputation is on the line and that if he needs help he must say so.

We had a good planning session today. Some of the ideas we had were not feasible when we saw the cost benefit analysis. But we seem to be on track to delivering a plan that will work.

13/10/2005: Saw a fantastic system today. The vendors say it will make all of our data available online in real time. It is probably a good idea but it will have to wait for a review next year.

27/11/2005: The board gave us some tough top down targets today. I protested, but we have to live with the hand we are being dealt.

05/12/2005: It looks like we will not reach this year’s targets, but we will only be 2% off. With the start we had during the year it has been a good effort and the result was not great but OK. I’ll take the flack with the board; the team does not need to be distracted. I think Tom’s new system will save us next year.