Authentic Leadership: Simon doesn’t say – Simon shows!

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Leadership has nothing to do with position and everything to do with disposition – Mark Stolow, CEO at Huddol 

Effective leadership is in short supply.  James Rosebush, in his article “Why Great Leaders Are in Short Supply” said that we are experiencing a dearth of leadership in society. We see fewer prominent leaders who seem genuine and highly capable, and many who have been compromised, deposed, or defeated. Even more seem to have run out of ideas, or simply appear unable to craft the necessary consensus to lead. 

How do you feel after reading this?  

I’d like to propose something, if I may. I believe that the dearth in leadership we are experiencing comes from the fact that our ideas about leadership have fallen behind the dramatic changes taking place in the workplace and in the world more broadly.  

Authentic Leadership: The Key to success

True leadership does not take place only in a corporate setting.

True leadership does not take place only in a corporate setting. True, authentic leadership is lived in all aspects of life – it is a doctrine by which the greatest leaders live by. Think about this: What in the world do Marcus Aurelius, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Camillo Olivetti, Elon Musk and Michael Jordan all have in common? They live or lived as leaders in all aspects of their lives, which led to amazing success. Why? Because when you tap into your authentic leadership potential, you are able to confront challenges in all areas of your life. You see opportunities where others see obligations.

[…] when you tap into your authentic leadership potential, you are able to confront challenges in all areas of your life.

Now, what do I mean when I say Leadership has fallen behind. Well let’s just take a quick trip through history – the industrial revolution brought about a new organizational work structure; the factory system. This factory system led to increased division of labor and the system of counting outputs and hours as a way to measure performance. Henry Ford then introduced the 5 day work week not because he was such a generous guy, but to crush his competition because they could not afford to close their plants for two days. Hence, he attracted the best talent.  From that moment, the 5 day, 40 hour workweek was born.

From task-base to the learning worker

We slowly moved from a task-based work society to what was called the knowledge worker by Peter Drucker to where we find ourselves today – the learning worker. The learning worker is not just focused on one thing. They value learning an array of skills, being more flexible and adaptive to rapidly changing environments. However, with this shift in worker definition, the structure of organizations did not change, and neither did the way companies were led or measured performance.  

The rapid innovation and speed of the internet, scale of connections, and globalization were among the many factors that contributed to the rise of the learning worker. We are now facing a workforce, which, for the first time in history, grew up completely connected – no borders, no boundaries. In other words, this shift brought with it the creation of a broad, horizontal world, yet still beset by hierarchical or vertical leadership and management structures.  

Learning workers are different from task-based workers. They expect their results to be the key indicator of their contribution, and while salary is important to them, they require purpose, growth and ongoing learning. They don’t see a job as work but as an experience

The question for you is who needs to change?  Do we force this new workforce to abandon their inherent skills in order to fit into a hierarchial structure, or does the concept of leadership need to change? 

The answer really depends on how you view leadership. Is a leader someone who manages people or is a leader someone who inspires those around them?  I believe you only earn the title of leader when you inspire others to reach beyond their assumed limitations in order to reach a bolder vision.  

Have you ever been in the presence of someone that inspired you? Parent, Friend, Teacher, Sports Coach, or someone at work?  How did you feel?  Did you naturally fall into a state of flow around that person?  Did you want to do more than required?  Did you feel fulfilled?  Those are the feelings an authentic leader creates because a great leader leads by example.  A boss creates a feeling of obligation and squelches motivation.

Some of the most influential authorities on leadership from Simon Sinek, Liz Wiseman, and James Collins all touch on the concept that a great leader knows how to both access the talents of those around them and create an environment where they are self-motivated to do more, learn more, be more!

How does this happen?  What underlies this mystical leader?  The same skill that underlies a great life – SELF-AWARENESS.  Self-awareness is proven to be one of the hallmarks of a great leader. It is the capacity to honestly evaluate your own actions and beliefs and understand without judgement the impact you have on others.  In fact, a 2018 article in Forbes stated that the most important capability a leader should have is self-awareness. 

Research has shown that being self-aware increases your ability to:

·        Motivate

·        Be assertive

·        Communicate effectively

·        Become a great decision maker

·        Stay accountable

Unfortunately, true self-awareness eludes most people. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and author of Insight and Bankable Leadership, found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are.                             

Becoming an AGILE Leader

The question for you is are you committed to learning about yourself and I’m not talking about taking an online survey or quiz. Self-awareness is an ongoing process, which is why a great leader is a life-long learner.  It is a striving to understand who you are; how your thoughts and actions are influenced by your experiences and how your biases block your ability to lead and inspire.  It is the key to being what I call an A.G.I.L.E leader.

A – Self Aware

G – Gritty

I – Inner Mindset of Growth

L – Leverages Talent

E – Emotionally Intelligent

I had the amazing opportunity as an Investment Banker in New York, then a Portfolio Manager for one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, as well as a Co-Founder of a boutique private equity firm in Dubai. I have been active with top management from various industries and I can assure you that those companies which exhibited superior growth were led by humble, self-aware leaders who knew they needed to lead by example, not by an iron fist. They valued contribution from everyone at any level, embraced diversity, truly listened to their employees, and understood that they needed to inspire people to deal with the one constant in life – change. They understood that it was collaboration, not constriction or manipulation, which led to success.

It is through agility, adaptability, and authenticity that you become a great leader in all areas of your life, not just in the corporate world. It is about your disposition and how you show up in your life because self-aware leaders see themselves with clear eyes.  

It is about your disposition and how you show up in your life because self-aware leaders see themselves with clear eyes. 

Gallup estimated that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.  Who could have imagined that number would be so high given all the variables that influence engagement. Imagine the impact you could have if you ventured out to engage and inspire people instead of manage people.

Successful agile leaders respond to changes by seizing opportunities and driving long-lasting results.  Something we should all aspire to be in our own lives and with others. 

Want to tap into your authentic leadership potential?

Leadership skills are not just for the boardroom or limited to executive offices. They are integral to managing the complexities of life. Understanding what makes you a great leader provides the necessary self-confidence to address situations that emerge in all areas of life. The honest truth is that each one of us, in our own regard, are already leaders.

Join me in this 7-day Journey where we will create a road map, explore essential tools, and awaken in you the leader you were born to be.

Start today. Download the Huddol Journeys App now.

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Robert Pardi
Written by
Robert Pardi