There have been numerous studies into the style, characteristics and traits of great leaders in order to determine what it takes to be a leader. While we have lots of insights from this research no magic formula has emerged, simply because everybody is different, with their own unique leadership approach.
So if you want to excel as a leader you are not going to find the answer in a book.
Rather, it is a journey of self exploration to discover and live in alignment with your authentic self. This is good news as it means that you don’t have to be born with a special set of characteristics to be a leader, only to discover who you are and work from there.Authentic Leadership starts with self leadership – taking charge of your own life and living in accordance with higher values.
Those who do this successfully are often surprised by how many others will follow their lead ! Leaders who are driven purely by materialistic or self serving goals may be successful in the short term, but their lack of authenticity will eventually be exposed, thereby undermining their credibility as a leader.
So what does it take to be an authentic leader? There is no exhaustive list but it will include the following :
- committed to self exploration/awareness and personal development
- look to life experiences, both good and bad, for learning insights
- lead by example and live in accordance with their values and principles
- have a confident presence from knowing self and being ‘ok’ with who they are
- authentic leaders are the ‘same person’ in all situations – personal, work and social
- have worthy goals, that others find to be a source of inspiration
- definition of success will extend beyond material success, and include social impacts
- surrounded by (and listen to) people who support, mentor and challenge them
Summary – the best leaders know themselves, are grounded, live in accordance with higher values and have inspiring goals.