Be yourself… everyone else is taken

Posted January 18, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

One of the things that I’ve learned about leadership is that the harder you try to be the leader that you THINK you’re supposed to be, the harder it becomes to lead.  Your energy becomes consumed with trying to maintain the facade of this image of perfect leadership and eventually, it’s going to crack.

Once you begin to be yourself, you can actually focus your attention on bringing the best of yourself to others.

But, what if you’re a jerk?  Being an authentic jerk leader is not what we’re going for here.  Self-insight into how your behaviour affects those around you is crucial.

Feedback is one of the best ways to deepen your understanding of yourself.  One of the best exercises I ever did was a leadership self assessment that helped me understand how I was approaching leadership.  It wasn’t “strengths” or “weaknesses” but rather an inventory of my natural behaviours.  It helped me see the benefits and drawbacks to my approach and also gave me a clear roadmap to start to change things about my style that weren’t enabling me to be as effective as I could be.

In the knowledge economy, where people drive results and talent is becoming increasingly hard to find and keep, authenticity combined with self-insight is crucial for leadership success.  Command and control leadership is so dead it’s almost ridiculous to mention it.  We have to engage and inspire and we can only do that if we’re being our authentic selves.  Steve Jobs knows this.  Oprah Winfrey knows this.  Barack Obama knows this. 

So, what are you going to do this year to deepen your understanding of self and inspire those around you?

And to brighten your Monday, check out this clip of a truly authentic leader with arguably very little self-insight.   Boss David Brent (Ricky Gervais, The Office) hijacks a customer service training session to relive his rock star past.

Happy leading!


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