Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. They establish long-term, meaningful relationships and have the self-discipline to get results. They know who they are. (Bill George: Authentic Leadership)
Working recently with a group of Senior Directors I was struck once again about how important leading with belief is to achieving changes in your organisation and your culture. We discussed the concepts associated with Authentic Leadership such as “leading with the heart”, “Walking your talk” or “being the change you want in the world”.
Finding belief in what you do or what you want to do is the first step. Remember Gandhi as portrayed in that fantastic Attenborough movie? First seeing there was a problem and then building his understanding about what needed to be done and then doing what he thinks is right, sometimes at great personal cost. He believes first and then he models the behaviours he wants in others – he resists, he practices non-cooperation, he makes and wears his own clothes, he travels 3rd class with his people dropping his ego and becoming one of the masses – something even more difficult in a country with such a tradition of class and caste. He becomes the change he wants in the world.
In the Organisation there can be challenges to Authenticity from Stakeholder interests, ingrained culture and the daily impact of the disaffected. But more and more on a global basis we see where Authentic Leadership based on authenticity, belief, integrity and a higher purpose is clear and desired success follows – sometimes short term – but most definitely in the long term. And it is sustainable and self sustaining. It resonates through the organisation.
Viktor FranKl once wrote “Do not pursue success, for success like happiness cannot be pursued. It must ensue. Success ensues from the pursuit of the higher purpose”. Finding the higher purpose in your Organisation is key to believing. It becomes the cause, it delivers the belief and the energy and the skip in the step for all your people.
Being clear about and communicating this vision is key, as is understanding your own perspective and drivers. Being Authentic after all is not possible if you do not know yourself. How can you be Authentic to your true self if you do not have and/or practice awareness. To be Authentic in Leadership you must be able to get past skewed personal perspectives and motives and deliver from within. From where belief can resonate and connect and impact others.
The group I was working with gave time to think about how it was they were doing things, understanding why they were doing things that way and that while they were doing some things very well, some things could be improved. All they needed was to take another perspective on what they were trying to achieve. To their great credit they committed to “walking their talk” by changing their approach and the associated behaviours. They started on the path to Authentic Leadership with this commitment and this will in turn lead to long term performance improvement throughout their Organisation that is sustainable and full of integrity.
The Real Deal.