The lunatic is in the hall, The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more-from the song “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd
We see the evidence of inauthentic leadership every day; from presidents and prime ministers to industry captains and influencers. Decisions based on fake news, false suppositions, faulty logic and poor reasoning, narratives based on prejudiced thinking, hidden agendas and bad intentions. A cesspool of murky and destructive thoughts, actions and emotions.
We also see truly authentic and responsible leadership behavior, sometimes even from the unlikeliest of places; ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people who have very little themselves helping others in even more desperate situations, common citizens leading by example and business leaders acting with empathy and compassion.
The consequences of either of these behaviors are enormous. Businesses are broken or built, careers get destroyed or flourish, lives are upended or enriched and spirits are crushed or uplifted. And yet it is an individual choice. As leaders or even as not one, we get to choose whether we want to be an authentic leader or not. This choice we make, makes us an agent of positive change or a bringer of doom. The trick is to choose wisely.
So what does an authentic leader look like?
-someone who knows the difference they can make to the lives of the people who expect them to show the way
-someone who is acutely aware of their influence and power and refuse to let that intoxicate them, instead harnessing the power and influence to positively impact the lives of their followers
-someone whose every decision is in line with the vision both for themselves as well as the people they lead that is firmly rooted in shared values.
-someone who knows that they do not have all the answers and is not afraid to show that. This act of making themselves vulnerable and open to learning is perhaps the most important characteristic of an authentic leader.
-someone who can quell the anxiety and distress among those being led through displaying empathy, understanding, a sense of calm and competence.
-someone who is ready and willing to take the responsibility for stepping up and putting their hand up to be counted and one that is willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.
Crises come and they go but authentic leadership stays on forever both in the minds of people as well as the pages of history. At the end of the day, nobody remembers the events that took place but they will always remember the people who made a difference with their behavior and leadership skills.