By Tal Shnall
The world is changing in front of our own eyes. People yearn for better leadership! But what kind of leadership do we want? The need for authentic leaders is more important than ever.
In his book ‘Authentic Leadership’ Bill George makes the case that we need a new kind of leadership to deal with the challenges facing organizations today and into our future. He makes the case that Authentic Leaders of purpose–driven companies will create far greater shareholder and societal value than financially orientated companies.
Leaders who exemplify purpose, values, trust, and self-awareness can build better communities and thriving organizations. They develop a positive moral courage to lead by example as they communicate through their words and actions high moral values and standards.
These characteristics are developed from the inside out. Inside out basically suggests that if we want to lead authentically and create lasting impact, we must begin with our own character. The current leadership challenges we face cannot be solved on the superficial level, “out there.” It really begins with our own character. Stephen Covey in his classic work of “Principled-Centered Leadership,” says that
“Inside out means to start first with self-to start with the most inside part of self. With your paradigms, your character, and your motives…. inside out is a continuing process of renewal, an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.
You can’t become an authentic leader in a day. Authentic leadership takes a while to develop. It is a journey that takes years of self-discovery and self-actualization. The best leaders are the ones that connect to their higher-self. Virtues such as honesty, humility and empathy are part of that transformational journey. Aristotle once said that “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
- People want their leaders be real, genuine, to do the right thing.
- Authentic leadership is all about being the leader you always destined to be.
- Authentic leadership does not come from your title or from your authority.
- It’s not so much what leaders do minute by minute, but the kind of leader we are becoming.
Authentic leaders are committed to shape their character by learning from different experiences and opportunities to get better. They are honest with themselves and humble enough to admit mistakes.
“We need authentic leaders—people who own their mistakes, acknowledge their faults, and always put the interests of their organizations ahead of self-interests.” Bill George
This form of leadership comes from your being. It’s the kind leadership that places as a foundation of one’s identity. Every leader has their own purpose, calling and core values that they choose to lead with. What are yours? The moment you are very clear on those questions, the better you can lead in an authentic way.
Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show vulnerability and to connect with their employees. They continue to grow and foster authenticity among their employees because everyone matters. They feel less threatened by the changes that employees and share genuine creative ideas to foster innovation in their industry.
Their Integrity is demonstrated leading meaningful work and creating high levels of trust around their culture. The key to their success is on-going engagement and caring for the well-being of others, while contributing to their development.
Authentic leaders are true to their core beliefs and values and exhibiting authentic behavior, such as self-confidence, optimism, hope and resilience, to model and promote the development of these attributes in their organization or community.
So, how can today’s leaders can achieve authenticity?
Leaders can achieve authenticity as they begin to develop honest awareness of self, and then manifest their true self in control of their environment through the exercise of moral virtues. It takes a lot of courage to connect with your own values, strengths, and gifts. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you think is right even though it may not be easy at times. We live in a world where many leaders walk the path of least resistance. Authentic leadership is all about taking the higher road, not what is easy, but what is right.
“I have often thought that the best way to define a man’s character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensively active and alive. At such moments, there is a voice inside which speaks and says, but this is the real me! —William James, Letters of William James
Tal Shnall is a leadership speaker, customer service consultant and a blogger. His background consists of leadership training and service in the hotel industry for almost 20 years. Tal has put together award winning leadership programs by working with brands such as Marriott, Hilton and Starwood hotels. Tal is passionate about helping leaders become better leaders and create a culture of excellence in every organization.
Connect with Tal on Twitter @tshnall or send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org for collaboration and conversation about leadership and service.