Authentic Leadership

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BlBusWoman.jpgLeadership applies to each and everyone of us. It is all about how we choose to lead our life, interact with others or take action through others be it at work or at home.

The description of what is considered to be good leadership is continuously changing. Authentic leadership, where we make real, warm person to person connections, is the direction we are moving toward.

To gain a clearer feel for the difference between being authentic and projecting an image, let us look at some detail.

          The Leader with power & pretense                                The Authentic leader

Introduces topics

Quiet person, understated confidence

Interrupts easily

Respect toward others

Shares no personal information, keeps a distance between themselves and others

No strict keeping to rules but does this in a respectful and polite way

Answers questions on behalf of others

Good sense of humour

Dominates the conversation

Natural and just themselves

Uses technical words and looks down on others

Commanding presence

Judges other people

Natural leadership

Makes other people wait before seeing them or replying to a query

Makes contact in a warm and easy way

Makes others feel inadequate/inferior

Comfortable in any setting

Sits while the other person stands

Speaks with authority but also compassion

Has an attitude of looking down on others

Smiles with their eyes not only their mouth

Sits at the head of the board table

Treats everyone as equal no matter what their status

Displays awards, testimonials, etc

Uses clear and simple language

Has many assistants

Wears clothes that are understated

Wears expensive, flashy brands

Has no props (eg showy awards)

So why are we moving toward more authenticity?

Leaders behaving in a powerful, pushy and unauthentic way create distance between themselves and others. We feel uncomfortable in their presence. We no longer want to be influenced, coerced, manipulated or forced to do things or respond in a certain way. The reality is that this kind of power is all ego based and comes from a space of inner insecurity. We experience these kinds of leaders as closed, tight and tense.

The success of these kinds of leaders is short term based. This kind of leader is self-focussed and only interested in personal gain.

So what are we looking for in a leader?

To be a truly powerful leader we need to be strong, humble, open and find a way to connect with others at a heart level. Lasting success comes from focussing on others and their needs – in a genuine way.

If I am this kind of leader, then:

  • I see myself as equal to others.
  • I am focussed on building comfortable and lasting relationships where people will be loyal to me because of how I have treated them.
  • I behave in a way that respects and honours others and the contribution they can make, which may be very different to mine.
  • I connect because I care.
  • I am more interested in making a genuine contribution than whether I am furthering my personal goals.
  • My goals are what is best for the company, team as a whole, not just what is best for me.
  • I am myself and show my humanness.

Some great examples have been Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela. Each of them had a deep, quiet, inner confidence and were of service to humanity as a whole.

“I am but a humble seeker after Truth and bent upon finding it… The whole of my activity… is directed to that end… I am no master, I am but a struggling, erring, humble servant of India and of humanity.” Gandhi.

Article written by: Linda Germishuizen - Executive, Career and Life Coach

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