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Whirling Chief

Leadership 101: Path to Self-authentication

As we start to analyze findings of our collaborative research with Stanford University’s CCARE, what we are seeing very clearly is enduring leaders truly emerge from their whole selves.

Those leaders who drive vision, inspire and enable people of all diversities over long periods of time engage in constant soul-searching and are willing to test their uniqueness through their life experiences with a growing hunger to become a better version of themselves.

Over the course of last week, through our social media accounts, we have been sharing tips around how to grow authenticity; today, we share the complete list. Kindly consider reading and reflecting when you have mental capacity to connect to the material and please consider sharing with others if you want the material valuable.

Tip 1: Reframe your life story. 

Across all our analysis, we found enduring leaders taking charge, creating a choice in moments to develop self-awareness through their journeys. 

Our life stories not only provide context for our experiences, our consciousness actually begins when our brains gain power over our personal narratives. In simpler terms, our brains love stories because a) stories help us hold our attention, b) they help us develop a sense of ‘being’. It is important we recognize the facts matter less than the narrative we build around it. This is not to delude our selves or others, it is to find transformative effects of our lived experiences (good and bad) as ways to discover self-identity through meaning-making.

Tip 2: Understand who you are.

We all talk about self-awareness and yet, we are so easily colored by our desire to establish ourselves and “impress”, we often (consciously and unconsciously) hold back our unique thoughts, emotions, actions and desires. 

Knowing our authentic selves require for us to (1) connect to our core purpose, (2) exercise courage to be who we are and (3) find ways to gather honest feedback in support of our journey… Only then, we are able to connect to our true values and develop sustainable operating principles; our authenticity is actually developed through stress-testing. Our research confirms we are most authentic when we can ensure alignment in the way we think, say, feel, act, and consistently. 

Tip 3:  Aim to live with intention.

This is both about knowing and acting alignment with our values and about balancing our intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Although majority of us would have a hard time to admit this we tend to build our definition of ‘success’ around others’ expectations. ? It is nothing to be ashamed of… We enjoy the recognition of titles, money, prestige; we all do! The external validation feeds one of our primary motivations: self-interest. Yet, we need to remember we have other motivations, too! Our need for connection and our need for living meaningful lives are equally important.

The enduring leaders we have studied managed to find balance between their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and create integrated life experiences. This takes enormous disciple – especially around staying connected (grounded); yet, it is possible…

If we want to evolve our ‘being’ as leaders of 21st century, we have to move away from fractions and consciously work towards unity. This requires us to grow self-compassion, the ability to observe ourselves without judgment and make conscious choices to fulfill our highest potential one decision at a time, every time…

Tip #4: Build a reliable, trusting support system. 

In our study (and in compatible studies), we found enduring leaders grow their capacity through others.

These leaders have colleagues, family members, friends, mentors, coaches to rely on for hard facts, for challenging their opinions, for providing honest feedback and to step in (to cover) when necessary. In return, they empower their “people” to step up and lead. The two-way nature of the relationship makes it stronger and lasting. Pick your allies carefully, allow yourself to show your ‘ugly’ and ‘incomplete’ sides, build intimacy and do go the extra mile for those who are there for you…

Tip #5: Remain open to growth and learning.

Enduring leaders differ from competent and inspiring leaders in that they understand and connect to what they are good at, what they are not and how they can work with others to build on their development areas.

They are willing to learn and look for people and opportunities who can play a mirror role in helping them reflect on how they show up and how to do. Further, they work to create environments, where people can compliment one another’s strengths and offset each other’s weaknesses.

None of us can grow authenticity by imitating someone else. Over the years, our workforce has built an enormous amount of mistrust with today’s leaders. It is evident we need a new kind of leadership (in definition and in attributes) to be relevant and to bring value in 21st century.

And THAT starts by self-authentication!


  • 30 May 2018

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