What is Authentic Leadership?

Baker_Brant CropBy Brant Baker

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Okay, while it’s true that it was the project planning day, the real heart of the matter had to do with authentic leadership.

What is authentic leadership?  It is leadership that stems from knowing and acting out of one’s values.  It is genuine, honest, and self-aware.  And because these things are in place, it can therefore be leadership willing to take risk, and therefore, leadership that is ultimately more effective.

All of this takes some hutzpah.  To start, not everyone will be comfortable gazing at their navels.  This kind of soul-searching can be challenging at best, painful at worst.  And it’s not just a one and done deal: the authentic leader commits to a lifetime of self-evaluation and self-improvement.

But in the end this self-discipline will yield its own fruit.  When a leader knows his or her purpose, when there is a consistent practice of one’s core values, when we are able to lead with both our head and our heart, then and perhaps only then will all things align for truly effective leadership.

IMG_7913True, authentic leadership was very much on display during the 16th Annual Spirit of Community Leadership Awards Luncheon.  When over 400 leaders gather in one place, the air is heavy with a perfume of possibility.  Inspirational stories, dating all the way back to the founding of Scottsdale, bear witness to the marvelous legacy of the four original SL founders.  Any community that invests so heavily in creating great leadership is bound to reap a great reward for generations to come.

Sheryl Sandberg has said that “True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed.”  The idea here seems to be that authenticity is more important than perfection.  Do you agree?

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Filed under Class, Community, Leadership

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