By: Greg Wallace, Featured Columnist, Smart Business Magazine

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By Greg Wallace, Expert Contributors’ Blog, StrategyDriven

Great leaders pattern themselves after (drumroll, please) themselves. As stated by Jim Rohn, noted business philosopher, “all great leaders keep working on themselves until they become effective.”

Yet a significant amount of the billions of dollars we spend each year on leadership training is not about working on ourselves but patterning our leadership on some other leader’s life, leadership model, or leadership principles.

The Emperor's New Clothes", a fairy tale, the Stockdale Paradox as described in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, and the story of Noah’s nakedness in the book of Genesis provide leaders with important clues about how to perform a critical role -- confronting difficult situations.

From The Emperor’s New Clothes we learn that leaders must have the courage to call out difficult facts even when no else is willing to do so.

From the Stockdale Paradox we learn that leaders must have the discipline to confront “the most brutal facts of [our] current reality”.

The Emperor's New Clothes" is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two tailors who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

The Stockdale Paradox comes from Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. It is named for Admiral James Stockdale who developed the paradox while he was a prisoner in a Vietnamese POW camp. Mr. Collins summarized the paradox as follows:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Anyone who has seen the movie, “Finding Nemo” remembers the seagulls. “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine” was their constant cry.

As leaders we can sometimes mimic the seagulls.

My knowledge: “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine”

My experience: “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine”

My position: “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine”