real. [ authentic leadership > 2-of-5 ]


Deep Suspicion of more “quick fixes” and instant solutions has left many jaded of leaders, organizations and the depth of the Christian life.

Edwin Friedman (The Failure of Nerve) argues for self-awareness and self-differentiation as the marks of true, authentic leadership. His formula for authentic leadership is more maturity, not more knowledge;  greater honesty, not more technique, and taking personal responsibility, as opposed to more marketing and hype.

A well-differentiated leader, according to Friedman, is someone who has clarity about his or her own life story and goals; and shares his or her clarity. They become someone less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional reactions swirling about. Self-definition is about separation, while still remaining connected, and therefore non-anxious.

All sounds interesting, but how does this play out practically? What does this look like in the day-to-day behavior of a leader?

5 Ways to Express the Authentic You!

1. Yes is Yes, and No is No

That means not over committing. It means following through on commitments made. It means learning to prioritize and learning to not do everything. It helps people learn your word is good and worthy to follow.

[ For me… OUCH! My pathology of approval causes me to not do well here! I’ve got work to do! I over-commit.] How about you?

2. Live the life of a Lifelong Learner

Not claiming to know everything – because we don’t.  And, people know we don’t. Better to admit it on our own. Ask for help. Every leader is a learning leader. Authentic leaders seek new knowledge, and greater authenticity in living out what they know to be true.

[ For me… I love to learn. I also need to be okay with what I don’t know. ]  How about you?

3. Don’t exaggerate success

Most pretend that things are bigger and better than we really are. People usually can spot a pretenders.  Refuse credit when not deserved – it causes people to mistrust leadership. Authentic leaders seek recognition for others equal or more than their own.

[ For me… I am a boomer, often more worried about how things “appear” and the projecting of success. ] How about you?

4. Remaining accessible and accountable

The fastest way for a leader to get in trouble is to isolate him or herself from others. Authentic leaders are transparent in front of all people and completely open to a few. Share the struggles and allow others to see deeper parts of our lives. Insure ther are people who have the freedom to ask the hard questions.

[ For me… I am accessible, but I need to go to believe that ongoing accountability won’t slow me down. ]  How about you?

5. Admitting and sharing your fears

Even the strongest has fears. Everyone trying to follow a leader knows this about the leader. Authentic leaders own up to them. Leadership is not easy. Authentic leaders push through the pretending and share the fears that breakthrough represents.

[ For me… Expressing my fears can make me fear that people will think I do not have answers. ] How about you?

5 WAYS TO BE the Real YOU!   What are YOUR greatest challenges to being the REAL YOU?

Tomorrow’s Blog Post: Authentic Leaders are Relationally Reliable

© Terry Walling 2013

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