Why Being An Authentic Leader Can Be So Hard

Who knew that being yourself could be so difficult

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You would think that being authentic would be the easiest thing in the world to do and yet so many leaders struggle with it.

Why is that?

Is it because we all have an image of what a leader should be and we try to act that way. We look at the likes of Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Churchill, JFK, etc and we try to emulate them.

Or is it because of the myriad of leadership techniques many of which can be confusing and some even conflicting that it can be hard to find an approach that fits us? Take Daniel Goleman’s 6 leadership styles for example Commanding, Pace Setting, Visionary, Democratic, Affiliative, or Coaching each so different requiring different skills and qualities.

It’s not easy picking the path and being consistent with who we are, what we do and how we do it. Knowing which of these is most important in terms of our authenticity.

What we do can be situational, and can change from day to day, sometimes even from hour to hour.

How we do it will develop and change over time as we learn new techniques and become more proficient and experienced as leaders.

The most important components of authenticity is who we are and are we living and acting in alignment with that.

The challenge here is complex as many of us don’t really know who we are, we are not 100% clear on our values, or we are not confident enough in ourselves, or unwilling to be vulnerable enough to show our true selves.

This is why authenticity can be difficult because to get that mix of what we do, how we do it and who we truly aligned requires us to know ourselves and to be comfortable and confident enough to do it.

I know myself how hard that is, it took many years for me to learn and be comfortable with myself, to learn more about what I really valued. That doesn’t mean that I was inauthentic but more that I was a pale shadow of who I really was.

Leadership was a role that I played and one that I played well, delivering much success.

My real breakthrough in leadership though came not from better technique or experience, but from being more of myself, the more of me I exposed the better the leader I became.

That’s not to say leadership skills are not important because they are, but the more authentic we are the more authentically we can wield these, the greater their impact can be.

Why this should be I am not really sure, although I suspect that the more comfortable we can be with ourselves, the more comfortable others will be with us, and the more connected they will be. The cornerstone of Leadership is trust, and maybe the more we can trust ourselves the easier it will be for others to trust us.

If you want to be more authentic then learn about who you really are, what your values and and develop the confidence to show your true self.

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