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5 leadership lessons from Chris Christie

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie definitely has a knack for hurling zingers, like when he told Jon Corzine to "Man up and say I'm fat" and called a local assemblyman "numb nuts." I especially like this one about the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore:" "They're from New York. Snooki is from Poughkeepsie, The Situation is from Staten Island. They parachuted these losers into New Jersey."

Given that irreverent one-liners are about all the media reports on Christie, I found the governor's keynote speech at the Republican National Convention to be almost shockingly inspirational. And even though I'm from New York and worked in the private sector, we happen to share remarkably similar views on leadership behavior. Here are five lessons that executives and business leaders can learn from Christie:

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Be direct and truthful. Christie said his mom "spoke the truth -- bluntly, directly and without much varnish" and taught him "to speak from the heart and to fight for your principles." I can't tell you how many companies I've seen fail because executives sugar-coated the truth or surrounded themselves with yes-men.

Be yourself, genuine. Don't try to fit somebody else's idea of how you should behave. Instead, be the best you can be using your own gifts, strengths and passions. Of course, every leader needs a trusted advisor or two. But after you hear everybody else's words of wisdom, you should still trust your gut and make your own decisions.

Earn respect for what you do, not admiration for who you are. This is such a critical point, I can't emphasize it enough. Leaders should be measured by what they do -- their behavior, their actions, their accomplishments -- not their principles or ideals. The only thing that counts in the real world is getting things done.

Forget the naysayers. People will always say things like "the challenges are too great," "things are too broken to be fixed," "it can't be done" or "you can't challenge the status quo." They'll place blame and point fingers. None of that matters. How you got there doesn't matter. The odds don't matter. Don't listen to what everyone says. Do what has to be done. Make it happen. Be the master of your own destiny, not a victim.

Have faith in people. Trust that people can and will face challenges, do the right thing, make tough choices and do what needs to be done when it counts. The only caveat: They need the right leadership or none of that will happen. As he said in the speech, "Leadership delivers. Leadership counts. Leadership matters." He's right across the board.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Bob Jagendorf

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