Authentic Leaders: Nature or Nurture

Over the last few months, I’ve introduced research regarding how a certain breed of leadership drives business performance and creates a culture of trust. So, naturally the question of whether Authentic Leaders are born or evolve is a logical question to explore.

The answer may surprise you.

After being promoted to my first management job decades ago, a mentor shared a powerful book entitled “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” by Jim Lundy.

Anchored to the fallacy that leaders resided only at the top of the organization, I did not consider myself a leader, even though I was responsible for managing a front-line staff of five. Lundy quickly challenged this assumption in the opening chapters and highlighted that leaders existed at all levels of a company, including and especially the front line. I was hooked and willingly embraced my role as a leader.

Soon after, I discovered innate leadership skills that enabled me to positively impact my team’s success. No one had to train me how to lead; for some odd reason, I just knew how to drive results.

The truth is, I was a natural leader, but I wasn’t an authentic leader. Although my team worked hard and achieved results, they did so only when I was as present and driving success. As a result, performance could not be sustained.

In retrospect, I’ve come to believe most influential leaders are born with certain innate skills that set them apart, including a winning mindset and a contagious drive. They tend to naturally create winning teams.

However, an Authentic Leader is more than that. They have an everlasting impact on company performance, as teams will continue to perform even when the leader isn’t driving results.

Authentic Leaders awaken the performance and potential of individuals and connect it to the overall team’s goals and vision, thereby establishing a high performing unit. This alignment of individual goals with team goals, combined with the passion and engagement of the team, not only fosters team success but ignites change organization-wide. The result is trust: Trust in the leader, trust in the organization and trust that winning is real.

Whereas a natural leader may be born with innate leadership skills, to be an Authentic Leader requires introspection and a strong commitment to self-improvement. It takes inner work that not everyone is willing to do.

Therefore, Authentic Leaders are not born that way. We BECOME an Authentic Leader.

As a result of this becoming, our team believes in what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, which is followed by increasing levels of emotional involvement in their work (i.e. engagement).

Engagement creates ownership. Ownership drives continuous and sustained individual and team performance. Performance drives everlasting business results.

As I noted last month, Authentic Leaders embody three distinct principles, which build trust and inspire performance:

  • They assume positive intent.
  • They see relationships as a “value exchange” rather than win-lose, give-take.
  • They are ruthlessly committed to self-improvement.

Remember, Authentic Leaders are not born that way and must do the work to expand their own capacity for authenticity. They become more authentic as they adhere to the principles above, and as their authenticity expands, so does their impact.

And that’s where the nurture comes in. Although much of what we perceive as leadership is innate, truly authentic leaders are nurtured by mentors and developed through their own quest for personal excellence. They BECOME more authentic as they strive to BE MORE.

It is this becoming that sets them apart. Next month, I’ll share the five performance attributes for attracting and developing authentic leaders.


Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Dan Fuss
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Dan Fuss
Terry Booth
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Terry Booth
Fred Wilson
20 Things You Didn’t Know About Fred Wilson
joel greenblatt
20 Things You Didn’t Know about Joel Greenblatt
Identity Theft
10 Identity Theft Techniques to Watch Out for in 2020
Bank of America
Choosing The Right Bank Account for Your Child: 5 Suggestions
Debt
The Document That Protects You Against Debt Collectors
10 Ways Millionaires Manage Their Money that You Don’t
The 20 Best Places to Live in Iowa
The 20 Best Places to Live in Japan
The 20 Best Places to Live in South Dakota
The 20 Best Places to Live in Ireland
Jacksonville Beach
The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Jacksonville, FL
Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach, California
The 10 Best Hotels in Pismo Beach in 2019
Indianapolis
The 20 Best Things to Do in Indinanapolis for First-Timers
The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Sarasota, FL
Best Large Hybrid SUVs
20 Best Large Hybrid SUVs for 2020
Best Cadillac CTS Models
The 10 Best Cadillac CTS Models of All-Time
2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
The 20 Best Affordable Plug-In Hybrid Cars for 2020
2020 Toyota Tundra
The 20 Best Pickup Trucks Heading into 2020
The 20 Best Bulova Watches of All-Time
The 20 Best Ball Watches of All-Time
The 20 Best Victorinox Watches of All-Time
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
The 20 Best Samsung Watches of All-Time