Sorry to be so blunt, but I’ve got a hard truth to share. We need to look in the transformational leadership mirror.
MOST LEADERS AREN’T LEADERS.
They are just the first in a long line of followers. Bold statement, right? Believe me, I don’t make it lightly. Before I explain, I want to share a story.
Sitting across from Juliana, a rising next-generation leader in her industry, I felt genuinely proud of her for her courage as a leader. Over the last month, she’d been sharing with me that she had struggled in dealing with an individual who directly reported to her. She had found herself constantly frustrated and having to push down her anger at having to “babysit” this individual in order to get them to meet deadlines. (We’ve all been there…right?) The subtle clench of her jaw as she described this individual’s behavior told us both there was something going on under the surface for Juliana…
Over the last month that Juliana and I had worked together, I’d asked her to examine why this person was so adept at getting under her skin (outside of the obvious issue of not meeting deadlines). Today, with a smile of relief and certainty Juliana announced, “This might sound crazy, but this person does exactly what my older brother did when I was a kid. He was constantly not following through on what he was supposed to do and I would have to cover for him and do it with a smile”
Leaning forward, I asked her, “How did you handle the situation differently today, than you usually would?”
She took a breath and a slight pause the way most of us do when we have to say something uncomfortable. “I have to tell you that when you suggested that I look in the ‘mirror’ and see what this person might be reflecting back about me or my history I was mad at you.
Despite my own resistance,” she continued, “I did go away and I thought a lot about the specific question you gave me: What does this remind me of? I’ve gone to sleep asking it, I’ve woken up asking it. This morning I awoke,” she said, “and it was crystal clear. My frustration was all about my brother. I went to work, took the time to sit down with this team member, and without any residue I asked, ‘How can I best help you meet your deadlines?’ When he said, ‘I don’t know,’ I replied with complete calm, “Well, let me know by 3 o’clock on Friday because meeting deadlines is part of the job requirements. If you find that you just can’t do that, we may need to look at what’s a better fit for you.”
I asked her how she had been feeling during her meeting. She told me she’d been just as calm at this moment. She added, “Once I could see that my internal reaction wasn’t actually about this individual; that it was some unresolved stuff from my history, it lost all of its punch.”
At that moment, Julianna took a major step toward transformational leadership.
Now back to my original statement that there aren’t any (at least not many) real leaders out there. I’ve done a lot of research on the topic of transformational leadership. The fact of the matter is that if you take a look around, you will see that the people who we are told are leaders have followers, but those followers aren’t consciously choosing to follow them. They are going along because the person they are “following” isn’t an intentional authentic leader. That person is simply the one at the head of the line.
Many of today’s leaders have, by whatever means, found (or leveraged) themselves into a position of power. That is very different than being a genuinely authentic leader because if people are following a leader because they’re afraid not to, or because they want to leverage that individual, the person at the front isn’t an authentic leader. He or she either an authoritarian (dictator) or a rung on someone else’s ladder.The reality is that leadership is not a title. Leadership is a responsibility, and it takes real courage to be a leader. Click To Tweet
An authentic leader is committed to the continual self-examination of him/herself. Such a leader has the self-knowledge and self-discipline to make sure their motives are clear, and that neither their ego nor their greed is driving them.
That’s why I’m so proud of Juliana….Real leaders look within first and that’s what she did.
Be honest with yourself right here right now: Do you have the courage to develop the self-knowledge needed to become a genuinely authentic leader? I wrote about this a little more in depth here, and I’d love for you to take a few minutes to read it.
Just one last thing. Authentic leaders are committed to implementing real change to make things better, but it should be noted that they aren’t afraid to change themselves in the process.
Gandhi said it best: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
At the bottom of the page is a link to my Authentic Leadership Matrix. It’s designed to help you evaluate your own leadership strengths and weaknesses and identify areas that need improvement. It’s $197 value, but it will cost you nothing when you use that link.
Because I am committed to assisting you.
Because the world needs more REAL leaders and I want to train Authentic Leaders.
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Dov Baron, Expert on Leadership, presents his Authentic Leadership Matrix!
My Authentic Leadership Matrix is free this link! Why? Because one of the questions I’m most often asked is; What authentic leadership is and how do we define it? As a result, with years of experience and extensive requests, I created the Authentic Leadership Matrix. It’s designed to give you a clear process of how to perform in each of the five main areas that are required for you to become a world-class authentic leader. Start your yes and no evaluation to discover your leadership traits here: https://matrix.fullmontyleadership.com
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