What Authentic Leadership Looks Like

Authentic Leadership is a hard thing to define. I’ve heard many definitions of it and given more than one myself. But here’s a “definition” I believe works every time: 

Authentic Leadership is like love; it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.

Which leads us to this post… What Authentic Leadership Looks Like. 

If you are the observant type you’ll see most if not all authentic leaders consistently doing the following things. These are not “natural,” but authentic leaders are intentional about them and they invest the time to do them every chance they get. They get so good at them that others may believe they are natural but an authentic leader never takes these skills for granted.

Authentic leaders are touchy feely. This is personally my biggest hurdle and I use “political correctness” as my excuse for not doing more of this. Authentic leaders reach out and touch people, yes, physically touch people. A pat on the back or a hand on the shoulder “connects” a leader with their people, people normally respond well to simple physical touch.

If you’re like me and too concerned by policies and regulations then just keep your touch to a basic handshake. If you’re leading people and you haven’t found a reason to shake their hand in the last 6 months then find one today. It will show them that you remember they are human and that they still matter. 

Authentic leaders are name droppers. They remember and use their people’s names. People love to hear their name, Dale Carnegie says that a person’s name is to them “the sweetest sound in any language.”  

Before you begin to use the “I’m horrible at remembering names” excuse let me tell you about a gentleman I worked with years ago at Dale Carnegie. I can’t recall his name (okay, that was humor) His name was George and if he met you today he would still remember your name a year from now. If he met you in a group of 99 other people he would remember all their names too. 

I thought that was pretty incredible so I asked him how he did it. His answer was embarrassingly simple; he said it was important to him so he worked at it. I could write a whole blog post on how to remember names but that’s for another day, today I would just suggest doing a little research on name remembering, there are many good techniques to help you in this area, if it’s important to you, and it should be important. 

Authentic leaders Lead Today. Okay, so some people say “lead in the present” or “lead in the moment” but for obvious reasons I prefer Lead Today. Whatever you call it, here’s what it means: Don’t make time to lead only when it’s convenient. Lead when leadership is required, lead when your people need leadership. Don’t hide from a confrontation, don’t try to ignore problems and don’t undervalue your people by leaving them hanging. 

Remember, you lead people and nothing else. Authentic leaders never forget that they lead people and manage stuff. Policies and programs are managed, people are led. People are led by people, not rules and regulations. If every page of your employee handbook has a footnote that says “failure to comply with any of these policies could result in termination” that may well be a sign that you’ve surrendered your leadership to an employee manual. That’s not authentic leadership.

That’s just a small sampling of what Authentic Leadership looks like. Here’s a question for you: If your team members are asked how often they “see” your authentic leadership in action what would they say?

Focus on the actions listed above and their perception of your leadership will be one of authenticity…. and it just so happens that their perception will be reality. 

You’ve Chosen Your Life

You’ve chosen your way to the life you have.

To those who would say they have not chosen their life, that their circumstances and events outside of their control have chosen their life I say to you: excuses, excuses, excuses.

The more you allow circumstances to control your life the less control of your life you have. If you’re allowing circumstances to control your life you’ve undoubtedly forgotten about the incredible power of you. You, like every other person on the planet can have more control over your life just by taking it.

Successful people control the circumstances of their life, they put themselves in a position to succeed. They use the circumstances of their life to their benefit, regardless of what those circumstances happen to be.

You make choices every day, and every choice has a consequence. It could be a positive consequence or it could be a negative consequence but no choice in life goes unnoticed.

Perhaps the most important choice you make every day is the choice of a positive attitude. A positive attitude makes everything in life easier. Some days you’ll need to make that choice more than once but never allow others to make that choice for you.

You choose the friends and people that you allow into your life and these friends and people have a major impact on the direction of your life. If you choose to spend your life with negative people, chances are you’ll be a negative person. If you choose to spend your time with unmotivated people it’s likely you won’t be motivated either. 

The people in your life are there because you allow them to be there, you may not realize this is a choice you’ve made but it is one of the most important choices you can make in life. Choose very carefully!

Victor Frankl, author of the life changing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning, ” says “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” When you accept that challenge to change yourself then you begin to control your life through better choices. 

I believe that we all are born with a purpose in mind. Something that makes our life worth living, something that makes our life matter. It’s something important. Once you have determined that important thing in your life you can live your life on purpose for a purpose. You no longer live your life just for today and take what comes, instead you make what comes.

You may not like where you are in life, but it’s your choices that have put you there. If you desire to be someplace else in life then make different choices because you choose your way to the life you have.

It may seem to you that others can force their choices on you but when you begin each day with the choice of a positive attitude you’ll have more choices than you could have ever imagined. No one, absolutely no one, can force their attitude on you. Frankl says that the choice of our attitude in the last of human freedoms, meaning “they” can take everything else from you but they can never take away your choice of a positive attitude.

Wherever you are in life today, your first step to being someplace else is to acknowledge that you put yourself exactly where you are. Acknowledge that you’ve done that, your choices have done that, the decisions you’ve made have done that. When you acknowledge that your choices in life have consequences, then you begin to control your life and it’s then that you begin to make your success.

Some days I’m happier than others and on the days when I can force myself to be honest about it I realize that it’s my choices that have determined my level of happiness. Successful people find a way to force that honesty upon themselves more days than not.

When you’re willing to accept 100% responsibility for who you are, what you are, and where you are then you’ll discover the power to change any part of your life that you desire.

You’ll also discover that you’ve had the power all along. Don’t waste another day of it!