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Authentic Leadership – striving for perfection

Authentic Leadership – striving for perfection

images-3I was in a workshop recently with some senior executives and we were discussing leaders and role models in their organisation. It became apparent that they were somewhat disappointed and uninspired by the ‘so called’ leaders in their organisation. What dawned upon the group was that many of their senior people didn’t ‘walk the talk’ – they weren’t Authentic Leaders.

I was intrigued to find out more about what Authentic Leadership is. Bob Taylor, a well know author in the field, defines it as this:

“Authenticity is knowing, and acting on, what is true and real inside yourself, your team and your organization AND knowing and acting on what is true and real in the world. It is not enough to walk one’s talk if one is headed off, or leading one’s organization, community or nation, off a cliff!”

On further research I found an article by Andrew Cohen, in which he says in order for us to be come Authentic Leaders, we must be willing to:

  • Stan alone
  • Live fearlessly
  • Act heroically
  • Want to be free and true more than anything else
  • Take unconditional responsibility for oneself
  • Face everything and avoid nothing
  • At all time see things impersonally
  • Live for a higher purpose

Now I don’t know about you but to me that’s a pretty intimidating list. It strikes me that to become a truly Authentic Leader (measuring up to all the criteria in that list) is, quite literally, extraordinary. I almost get the impression that it’s the search for ‘perfection’, in a leadership context. So if those executives in the workshop were thinking of their bosses, along these lines, then it’s not surprising that they came up short.

The way I see it, becoming a Authentic Leader is a continuous journey of learning and development without an end. For me, seeing it this way is motivating without be intimidating – I draw comfort from the subtext that “no one’s perfect, we all make mistakes”.

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