To become authentic leaders, we must discard the myth that leadership means having legions of supporters following our direction as we ascend to the pinnacles of power. Only then can we realise that authentic leadership is about empowering others on their journeys.
This shift is the transformation from “I” to “We.” It is the most important process leaders go through in becoming authentic. How else can they unleash the power of their organisations unless they motivate people to reach their full potential? If our supporters are merely following our lead, then their efforts are limited to our vision and our directions about what needs to be done.
Only when leaders stop focusing on their personal ego needs are they able to develop other leaders. They feel less competitive with talented peers and subordinates and are more open to other points of view, enabling them to make better decisions. As they overcome their need to control everything, they learn that people are more interested in working with them. A lightbulb goes on as they recognise the unlimited potential of empowered leaders working together toward a shared purpose.
A transformative experience may come at any point in your life. It could result from the positive experience of having a wise mentor or having a unique opportunity at a young age. But as much as we all want positive experiences like these, transformations for many leaders result from going through a crucible.
A crucible is an experience that tests leaders to their limits. It can be triggered by events such as confronting a difficult situation at work, receiving critical feedback, or losing your job. Or it may result from a painful personal experience such as divorce, illness, or the death of a loved one.
George, B., 2010. True north: Discover your authentic leadership (Vol. 143). John Wiley & Sons.
Development as a leader is not a straight line but a journey filled with many ups and downs as you progress to peak leadership.
If motivations to lead are only power, prestige, and money, leaders risk being trapped by external gratification as the source of fulfilment.
The five types are: Imposters, who lack self-awareness and self-esteem; Rationalisers, who deviate from their values; Glory seekers, who are motivated by seeking the world’s acclaim; Loners, who fail to build personal support structures; and Shooting stars, who lack the grounding of an integrated life. All five archetypal leaders described here frame their life stories…
Self-awareness is the first element of emotional intelligence. EQ may be more important for authentic leaders than IQ.
It is easy to get pulled off course. By knowing our ethical boundaries and testing values under pressure, we are able to get back on track.
The key to developing as an authentic leader is not eschewing your extrinsic motivations but balancing them with intrinsic motivations.