Becoming a More Authentic Leader – The First Steps | Stepshift

Becoming a More Authentic Leader – The First Steps

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

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We all have the capacity to inspire and empower others. But we must first be willing to devote ourselves to our personal growth and development as leaders. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else.

In a Harvard Business Review Article ‘Discovering Your Authentic Leadership’ by Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, and Diana Mayer describe how people become authentic leaders.

“First and most important, they frame their life stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers of their lives but rather as individuals who can develop self-awareness from their experiences. Authentic leaders act on that awareness by practicing their values and principles, sometimes at substantial risk to themselves. They are careful to balance their motivations so that they are driven by these inner values as much as by a desire for external rewards or recognition. Authentic leaders also keep a strong support team around them, ensuring that they live integrated, grounded lives”.

So how do you develop the self awareness and act on it to become a more effective leader who is trusted and followed? The authors suggest you reflect on these questions:

1. Which people and experiences in your early life had the greatest impact on you?

2. What tools do you use to become self-aware?

  • What is your authentic self?
  •  What are the moments when you say to yourself, this is the real me?

3. What are your most deeply held values?

  • Where did they come from?
  • Have your values changed significantly since your childhood?
  • How do your values inform your actions?

4. What motivates you extrinsically?

  • What are your intrinsic motivations?
  • How do you balance extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in your life?

5. What kind of support team do you have?

  • How can your support team make you a more authentic leader?
  • How should you diversify your team to broaden your perspective?

6. Is your life integrated?

  • Are you able to be the same person in all aspects of your life—personal, work, family, and community?
  • If not, what is holding you back?

7. What does being authentic mean in your life?

  • Are you more effective as a leader when you behave authentically?
  • Have you ever paid a price for your authenticity as a leader?
  • Was it worth it?

8. What steps can you take today, tomorrow, and over the next year to develop your authentic leadership?

Many authentic leaders use leadership or executive coaches as part of their support team to enable them to find their ‘true direction’ and to keep them on course during the everyday challenges and opportunities that leadership presents.


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