“Being an authentic leader means being true to who you are and what you believe in. You understand the purpose of your leadership, and you practice your values consistently. .. It’s about leading with your heart, not just your head — so you’re leading as a whole person. And when I talk about matters of the heart, I’m referring to qualities like empathy, compassion, passion, and courage.” Bill George, Author of “True North”
Authentic leadership is all about one thing: Integrity.
We sometimes think of authentic leadership as something that we have to develop when we are put into certain positions or roles; not the case. Authentic leadership is not only required for sustained organizational success, but for living a fulfilling and successful life as well.
Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, author of “True North” and professor at Harvard Business School says it starts with these 5 key elements:
- Know your values and live by them.
- Know your life purpose and align your actions accordingly.
- Listen with your heart as well as your head.
- Build positive relationships with people.
- Have self-discipline.
You may notice that understanding yourself is the common thread that runs through each of these five elements. Would you be surprised to know that this is a primary area of focus in my coaching work with executives? Indeed, because research now shows that up to 40% of executives fail in the first 18 months (this number is rising rapidly) and the top reasons mirror deficits in these 5 areas listed above.
Authentic leadership doesn’t happen by accident, it happens on purpose. When we know who we are, what we stand for and how we want to contribute, we can not only fulfill our individual potential but lead others to fulfill theirs as well. I can promise you that there is no more worthy place for your investment of time, introspection and action than in getting your personal foundation solidly set. The returns are immeasurable and will wondrously show themselves in all areas of your life.
Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and new college graduates who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.
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