I’ve come across an amazing Forbes interview with Simon Sinek a few days ago, where Simon discusses on How Anyone Can Be The Leader They Wish They Had. Authentic leadership also being on my priority list of interest, made me think about his message. Who is the true leader? What does it mean to be an authentic leader?
Last week, I opened the topic of Authentic Leadership by posting a research I’ve made to present its formal foundations made by worldwide renowned leaders. Even if the idea what being an authentic leader is still being developed and researched, it has been used in practice for many years. Due to its success, it spread and came into attention as a practice, not the theory. And this is what I like about it the most. – It came from the organic need for the change of understanding what leadership actually means. To make it more comprehensive, let me put it as Simon says in the mentioned interview:
“Leadership is a responsibility. It’s not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge. Though you may have rank, that doesn’t make you a leader. We call you leader not because you’re at the top. We call you a leader because you chose to take the risk to go first; first into the unknown, first into the danger, to protect your people, and to help them achieve more than they thought they were capable of. That’s why we call you a leader and afford you the perks of leadership. It’s our way of saying thank you.”
Seeing Authentic Leader through the Glasses of Inspiration
For as far as I can remember, I have felt that the real leadership comes from within. As I learned from experience, the main advantage of a great leader is his or her courage and internal balance. “How come?” you might ask. It’s simple; when we are in tune & piece with ourselves, our actions transform from the bare satisfaction of basic needs to the creation of a strong, quality and productive interpersonal relationship.
The need of “always being right” transforms into the need of empowering your team to conquer the common objectives and satisfy best interests of all together. You are a great leader when you have already in a way performed every single task you are assigning to your team members. You actually are telling them: “I’ve done this before my way, but I trust with all my heart, you are ready to do it yourself. I am here to give you everything you need for your top performance. And I am not afraid that you might be better at it than I am or used to be. Actually, I know, you can improve it by doing it the way you feel it can be done.”
The authentic leader is a living and breathing example of what he or she expects from all team members. This is what makes him or her worth the trust of the team. Also, the team does not follow because of some rank the leader has, but because they feel this is the path they want to walk. They are proud and feel honoured to be a part of the team and contribute to the common objective. Still, they feel not only free – but safe and encouraged to be true to themselves while doing things their way. Because this is the best inspiration and motivation for everyone.
Authentic Leader as a Person
We are all real people. “Only” human beings, so to say. There are many versions of ourselves hiding inside the same body. Many of roles we play in our everyday life.
Similarly, the authentic leaders are also people. And as their strong affinity to the positive attitude, on one hand, is what makes them great leaders, they are also confident about their not-so-well moments, on the other hand. They are not afraid to show their vulnerability. They express their doubts and concerns when they feel like and they allow themselves to show sadness if they experience it. It makes them humane and their followers accept that as part of their authenticity. Knowing that the one in front of us is a person from flash and bones and not just a title, written on his or her business card, makes us feel safe.
Because at the end of the day, we all need to feel good, healthy and accepted for who we are to continue the next one with our passion and lust for life. Being real and well is what drives us towards the fulfilment of our goals, tasks, and expectations.
The Followers of Today May Be the Leaders of Tomorrow
To sum up, let’s say that we are all surrounded by leaders. Today we might be following, and tomorrow, we might become the leaders. What to do when it happens? How to be the leader of tomorrow? Simply, be authentic. Each of us carries the answers within. All we have to do is transform our attitude from being a victim to the creator. Just take the strings in our own hands and pull them into the direction we feel we should be heading. Because the sun is always shining – even if above the clouds. And the man on the top of the mountain did not just fall there. We all have to climb it to see that sun. So, let’s go, shall we?