Leadership. It means different things to different people. The word often gets tossed around loosely in reference to people who are “out in front.” But, are they actually leading? From the heights of Corporate America and the leadership of nations, to the pioneers of social movements and the leaders of small business… at this critical time in history, everyone needs to take a look at what true, authentic leadership really is.
Let me share a little about my experience as a leader and the transformation I made last week in this area. It’ll help you learn more about what I’m referring to as Authentic Leadership, and hopefully offer some insight into your own next steps as a leader in your life.
I’ve always been a leader, at least since I was 16 when I was voted the co-captain of the Majorette squad in high school. I stepped into more leadership when I was 18 and began teaching aerobics at the local fitness center. Eventually my natural ability to lead brought me to being a yoga teacher, retreat facilitator, founder of a 500+ member women’s networking group, seminar leader, author, coach, speaker, and much more.
In the past, I had a belief that in order to lead I had to be “perfect.” That nobody could know the truth about me… especially if I was struggling. That I needed to show up and shine and make sure it all looked good on the outside. In other words, my old understanding of leadership meant that I couldn’t be human, couldn’t be flawed, and couldn’t be seen as anything less than perfect. For me, that kind of leadership couldn’t last… so it didn’t.
And, last week, I was blessed to have the experience of an upleveling in my own understanding of Authentic Leadership.
Here’s what was different. I allowed myself to be HUMAN. I let my clients see that while yes, I was their Spiritual Guide and Transformational Book Coach, that I (by no stretch of the imagination) am perfect. I shared how I, too, sometimes… get mad at my husband, have a short temper with my daughter, eat too much chocolate, make poor decisions, push myself too hard, drive too fast, slack off on my exercise routine, etc.
I felt so freed up and powerful in speaking my truth in this way. Yes, I am a Spiritual Guide and Leader… and I am human. I swear the heavens opened when I truly “got” that this is the next level of leadership needed in our world.
What helped me see this was what happened after I shared. My clients (many of them in tears) shared how they were impacted by what I said. And, they began to see how THEY could step into a bigger role as a leader while bringing ALL of themselves along… their greatness, Divinity, and gifts… as well as their humanity. They received “permission” to step up and lead no matter what… because they, too, are human. It was a transformational shift for everyone.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen one too many “leaders” who refuse to let their humanity show. Who insist on being “perfect” and believe their students won’t ever know as much as they do. I’ve seen one too many leaders who won’t allow for feedback or suggestions on how to improve their leadership ability, or hide their struggling marriage, bad habits or failures in hopes of maintaining their “position.”
Well, in my experience, this old paradigm leadership simply isn’t sustainable. Eventually the truth catches up.
So, I invite you to ask yourself how you can be a more authentic, and therefore POWERFUL leader in your life? Whether you are writing a book, running a business, or leading the Brownie Troop! Authentic Leadership will help you, and those you touch, co-create a better world for everyone.