I am frequently asked how to define the difference between Leadership and Authentic Leadership.
A leader is anyone who has influence over other people. That’s a very broad definition and points to the reality that almost anyone can lead. Your level of influence will determine your ability to lead. The greater your level of influence the greater your leadership potential.
But Authentic Leadership is something different. Being an Authentic Leader requires more than mere influence. It requires that you use that influence in a way that positively impacts the lives of the people you lead.
Authentic Leadership begins when you care for the people you lead. That’s because Authentic Leadership requires that the leader put their people first. If you don’t care for the people you lead it’s nearly impossible to put them first.
When you care for your people and you put them first it leads to enthusiastically helping your people succeed. It leads to making a positive difference in their lives.
That’s why the one absolute measure of whether a person is an Authentic Leader is whether or not they have helped make the people they lead better. Better at what they do, better at how they do it and better at why they do it.
Authentic Leaders make a difference in their people’s lives. They do it with no expectation of receiving anything in return for themselves. It may indeed help their organization but that’s not their primary motive for helping their people. They help their people in almost anyway they can because it’s the right thing to do.
A leader can have a large dose of success in many areas but if they haven’t helped another person reach their potential and achieve more than that person thought possible then they may be a Leader but I would not define them as an Authentic Leader.
If you’re wondering whether or not you’re an Authentic Leader you don’t need to wonder anymore. Look around at the people you’ve been leading. Are they better off because of the positive impact you have had on their life? Would they agree that you’ve had that positive impact if they were asked.
If the answer to both those questions is not a solid yes then you have some growing to do as a leader. That growth begins with a decision that says “I will LeadToday.” When you make that decision to authentically lead you won’t only change the lives of the people you lead, you’ll likely change your life as well.