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Tag: Authentic leadership
Leader, Are You an Authenticity Robber?
Authenticity, in its purest sense, is the capability of remaining true to yourself and to your values. Along with integrity, which I wrote about previously, it is one of the keys for successful leadership.
As Dr. Lance Secretan teaches:
“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust”.
Easier said than done in a world full of stimulus, temptations, where even the most truthful individuals easily get sucked into a vortex losing both their authenticity and direction. How do you know for sure that you have not lost your authenticity?
Signs of authenticity robbery (appeals both to personal behavior and behavior towards other individuals):
– Not seeing the wood for the trees
– No real purpose or direction
– Low self-worth, resulting in merely being a people-pleaser or some other form of emotional drainage in one self and in behavior towards other individuals
– Lack of creativity, copying other people´s work, and taking credit for someone else’s work
– Too high expectations upon oneself, and other people
– Fearful behavior resulting e.g. in loss of personal power and being incapable of confronting other individuals truthfully (hiding oneself, poor communication, no capability of taking/giving constructive criticism, avoiding conflicts etc.).
Being authentic is equal to being real, truthful, and having the capability to admit humanity, weaknesses, and vulnerability. Every great leader throughout history, and contemporary, has become truly successful through their capability of being authentic both towards themselves and towards others. Face the fact – you have to be authentic with yourself before having the courage to express authenticity towards other individuals. Even great artists have found their success through authenticity, including actors who master the skill to penetrate in to and to live the role of their character – without losing themselves in the process. Authenticity is also an essential ingredient in brand creation, be it that you are creating a brand out of yourself, or if branding a product.
Ways of strengthening authenticity:
- Learn to master your mind. I always emphasize this, and not without reason. Quoting Remez Sasson: “Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave”. Mastering one´s own mind requires continuous work, throughout life. If you do not master your own mind, someone else will.
All following points are part of the art of mastering one´s mind:
- Practice consciousness, daily.
- Focus on living in the present.
- Increase simplicity in your life.
- Be willing to let go, and to let energy flow freely.
- Learn to say no, but also to take no for an answer.
- Do not take anything personally.
- Be prepared for an inward journey. Authenticity is within you.
- Accept that you cannot change things forcefully, but rather through patience and diplomacy.
- Always be open to learning from others, express gratitude, respect, and be thankful for all lessons coming your way.
- Do not copy other people´s/organization´s work. Create your own. But if you still do use other people´s work, remember to refer to them/credit the individual/organization.
- Have respect for people, starting with having respect for you. You are here for a reason.
- Learn how to overcome your fears and transform them into positive energy.
- Be yourself since everyone else is already taken (Oscar Wilde).
“At the end of the day, it is not about what you have or even what you have accomplished. It is about what you have done with those accomplishments. It is about who you have lifted up, and who you have empowered. It is about what you have given back.”
Short video about authenticity:
Suggested further reading:
George, B. True North. Discover your Authentic Leadership. 2007.
George, B. Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. 2011.
Johnson, C.E. Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach. 2011.
Integrity, The No. 1 Leadership Quality
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”(Abraham Lincoln)
Leadership as one of the most widely discussed and debated topics is also one of the most demanding sports activities for any individual, regarding leadership as a sports activity. A leader has to be fit both mentally and physically, having the capability of combining both spurts and long-distance activities into leadership practices.
Expectations upon leaders are manifold. In today´s corporate world, leaders are often evaluated through corporate surveys and employee feedback questionnaires/ discussions, also called 360 degree feedback reviews. Politicians receive feedback through media and from voters. At least in democratic states where freedom of speech exists, where all citizens have equal possibilities, and equal human rights.
The importance of leadership is emphasized through the amount of discussion around, and research upon the topic, well-known journals and other media regularly publishing articles upon, and lists about, desired and important leadership qualities. Try to find a list of the most highly valued leadership qualities excluding INTEGRITY. Let me know if you can find one. I have not until this day.
A quick Google search with the keywords “integrity synonyms” gives the following top result:
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
“a gentleman of complete integrity”
|synonyms:||honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honour, honourableness, upstandingness, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
“I never doubted his integrity”
2. the state of being whole and undivided.
“upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”
|synonyms:||unity, unification, wholeness, coherence, cohesion, undividedness, togetherness, solidarity, coalition
“internal racial unrest threatened the integrity of the federation”
- the condition of being unified or sound in construction.
“the structural integrity of the novel”
|synonyms:||soundness, robustness, strength, sturdiness, solidity, solidness, durability, stability, stoutness, toughness
“the structural integrity of the aircraft”
- internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data.
WHY is integrity such an important leadership quality?
Top reasons for this:
- Integrity is morally and ethically correct behavior
- Integrity is human
- Integrity is democratic
- Integrity is highly valued by all human and democratic individuals
- Integrity is authentic, truthful and honest
- Integrity is not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk
- Integrity is a part of any individual´s moral compass, and a tool for making not only things right, but also making the right things
- Integrity is an essential part of conscious, ethical leadership, preventing immoral actions such as corruption, and enhancing transparency
- Leaders with integrity are more concerned with the common goal than their personal ambition
Suggested further reading:
EY – Growing Beyond: a place for integrity. 12th Global Fraud Survey.
George, B. 2007. True North. Discover your Authentic Leadership.
Transparency International. The Global Coalition Against Corruption. Publications.
“Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your internal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you. Although others may guide or influence you, your truth is derived from your life story and only you can determine what it should be.”
(True North, From the Introduction).
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
“In countries where innocent people are dying, leaders are following blood rather than brains.” (Nelson Mandela)
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” (Nelson Mandela)
An individual who practices what he/she preaches is predictable, removing emotions of threat, developing trust. showing others consistency (unknown).
“A rotten apple spoils the barrel. Plant your seeds well.”
Creating The Future – Leadership Resolutions for Year 2015
“Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she’s going to come around and whack you. You’ve got to be prepared”.
A few days left of year 2014 before we are heading into 2015, the year resonating with infinity, according to the Gregorian calendar. In some cultures, the New Year does not start until later in 2015, so everything is relative.
What do all cultures and traditions have in common for a New Year? Celebrations, festivities, resolutions, and last but not least, planning ahead. Yes, planning is an essential activity for anyone: private persons, businesses, organizations, municipalities, countries. Yet, there are events that cannot be planned for in advance, such as natural disasters. This Christmas, we all remembered the Asian Tsunami from 2004, where more than 200.000 innocent lives were lost due to a huge Ocean Earthquake along the Indian Ocean, directly affecting at least eight countries, and indirectly, many more.
There is no real evidence about this tragedy being caused by human beings, yet the possibility exists, taking into consideration how much Planet Earth is being manipulated by individuals.
We must remember to treat the Earth well, since “We don´t inherit land from our ancestors, we borrow it, rather, from our children” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). How we treat each other, animals on this planet, and our nature, is equal to leaving a legacy for future generations.
Thus, let us focus more on living according to virtues, and care not only for each other, but also for flora and fauna, the oceans that have, initially, given birth to human kind in the first place. Including and remembering these facts on a daily basis, and if forgotten, being reminded by other human beings about them, makes it easier for each and one of us to focus on creating an increasingly sustainable and lasting future for ourselves, and for generations to come.
Future is not something that simply happens to us, it is created by mankind each and every day, all over Planet Earth. The choices we make, from farming methods to the types of energy we use. Thus, let us forget about our fears for change, and be open to sustainable development, because evolution takes place when we allow it to happen.
Finally, a few general New Year´s Resolutions for 2015 that can be implemented both on individual, organizational, and governmental levels:
- I will no matter about my social and societal status, act responsibly and take increased responsibility for my actions.
- I promise to learn and develop my skills, knowledge, and wisdom on a daily basis by educating myself through all possible means, be it through media, social media, individuals with more knowledge about a certain topic, and through gathering real life experiences.
- I acknowledge that I am a spiritual being with a human experience, and not the other way around. As a spiritual being I understand the importance of nurturing both my mind and body on a daily basis in a manner that serves both me personally, and people around me.
- I promise to express gratitude for the life that I have been given, on a daily basis.
- I take nothing in life for granted.
- I respect everything and everyone upon Earth, and in our whole Universe. In challenging circumstances, I remember to pray, ask for help and guidance, and live according to virtues rather than fall into traps of the Ego.
- Any challenge that may come in my way will be treated with objectivity and greater wisdom than before. I understand that challenges are an essential part of life and nature, lessons for me to learn on my path towards developing my spirit.
- I will set clear boundaries and stand up for things that I believe in without losing faith in myself.
- I will say what I mean, and always speak the truth.
- I will be authentic, because this is the most essential part in growing as an individual and a spiritual being.
- I will guard memories, think long-term when creating and planning for the future, but live in the present.
Let us make year 2015 an unforgettable experience. May you be blessed upon your journey, and may the upcoming year help you reap the seeds that you have planted, and fulfill your dreams.
Why Should You Believe In Miracles?
Miracles happen all the time. We do not always sense them, or realize how full our world, and the universe, is with miracles. Very often we think about a miracle as something huge happening, a drastic shift or change in things, like a sudden strike of lightning in our environment, transforming our existence in a second. Miracles take place all the time, some of them bigger, some smaller. If we constantly expect a miracle to be a major event, we are likely to miss out the smaller miracles.
One thing is certain: in order to experience miracles in your life, you have to start believing in their possibilities, if you already do not. The deeper your belief, and the more you trust in miracles taking place at all times, everywhere, and the stronger your affirmations are, the higher the probability of you starting to sense how full of miracles your surroundings, your life, and the whole world is.
There is much more to life than the human eyes, or other senses, can explain. As rational individuals, we often prefer translating things, people, and circumstances through rationalism and facts. We are eager to find logical explanations for anything, although deep within us we do know how important it is to use intuition and feelings in order to be capable of expanding as individuals. A miracle is not bound to any certain culture or religion, and miracles are acknowledged in all religions. Miracles are a part of spirituality.
Jon Bon Jovi has said: “Miracles happen every day. Change your perception of what a miracle is and you will see them all around you”.
Sometimes difficult circumstances or major life crises lead us to increasingly believe in miracles. We need something to believe in, something that motivates us, inspires us, and guides us further on our life paths. However, sensing miracles does not require having a difficult life, or difficulties in life. Miracles are always there for each and one of us, no matter what our situation may be.
Experiencing miracles in one’s everyday life becomes easier with belief, increasing spirituality, and opening our minds to sensing small and big wonders, being grateful for anything that life gives us – even tough times, since they can be such important lessons for us. However difficult it can be, try to express gratitude even for setbacks and problems – they most often are the greatest lessons life has to offer us, and lead to personal development when we are open to learning.
- Without challenges, appreciating all the good things in life would be more difficult.
- Without rain, we would not be able to see rainbows.
- Without yin, there would be no yang.
- Without you, there would be no me.
- Without the Sun, there would be no Moon, no Earth.
- Without the Moon that we see in the sky each night, there would be no ebb or flood.
The Universe is full of miracles. Many of them so big, so familiar, so small, so everything that we have become too accustomed to even noticing them in our lives.
“Many people are alive but do not touch the miracle of being alive”. (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer was an inspiring personality who spoke about experiencing miracles. Watch this video clip on YouTube to listen to his message:
Is Life a Masquerade?
Masquerade balls, costumed public festivities originating in Venice, Italy, were historically elaborate dances arranged for members of upper classes. Amazingly colored dresses, wigs, make up, masques – up-lifting extravagant for the bold and the beautiful. Nothing wrong with that as long as “nemo dat quod non habet”? Or should life be lived in escapism? Some of us do. Escaping reality can sometimes be easier than facing the hard facts of life. We either adjust to existing circumstances, or try to change our realities through personal activities. It is not always possible, due to external influences. However good a person you are, if evil forces are oppressing the life you would have the right to live, there is not much else to do than escape in order to save your life. Run or die. This is the unfortunate situation of all refugees worldwide, the number of which is higher than ever, despite of efforts made by multiple national and international organizations to improve conditions on our planet.
According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the total number of persons seeking protection within or outside the borders of their countries rose up to almost six (6) million people in 2013. Forced by conflicts, more than 1,5 million people e.g. from the Syrian Arab Republic, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali, were seeking refuge. (UNHCR Mid-Year Trends 2013 report. Quoted 23.6.2014).
What can we do to help and to support these people? For many of us it is really difficult, despite or maybe because of, all the media and information overload that we are surrounded by today. Truth is that without local and international media, most of us would not acknowledge at all what is happening in the world surrounding our personal lives. Most of us read at least one printed newspaper every day, or online news, in addition to watching news on television. The reality is served to us, thrown upon our faces, through diverse media channels. Yet, most of feel overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything about the cruel facts we hear about, and see, every day. Silent acceptance or just fear of not knowing what to do and how to help?
Instead of blaming anyone, it might be helpful to realize that helping is always easiest locally. Problems exist everywhere, in every country, regardless of the fact that some regions seem to be affected much worse than others. If we don´t know how to be there for our neighbors, relatives, friends, in times of troubles, how can we be capable of solving problems in lands far away?
I am one of those people who agrees with the fact that problems must be solved locally, with external aid. But how can problems be solved in a country where radicalism flourishes and evil forces seem to dominate?
What has this all have to with authentic leadership? Just about everything.
An authentic leader, anyone of us, understands that life is not an ongoing party. Authenticity, in its deepest significance, is the capability of seeing things as they really are. Authentic people do not pretend to be something else but themselves, nor are they easily influenced by outside forces.
Authentic leaders step forward when everyone else seems to be stepping back. Authentic leaders truly care about helping others. Authentic people have a capability of interconnecting their mind with their heart and integrating both into their daily lives and into their leadership style.
A good example of a truly authentic leader is the current head of state in Uruguay, José Mujica, also described as the world´s poorest president due to the fact that he donates 90 percent of his monthly salary to charities benefiting poor people and small entrepreneurs. Exemplary. Mujica has also granted protection to 100 Syrian children by accommodating them in Uruguay. Not a high number taking into consideration the total number of two million Syrian refugees, nonetheless better than nothing, and far better than any country has proved to help so far. Overflowing with Syrian refugees, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon each currently “accommodate” several hundred thousand of them. (Yahoo News. UN applauds Uruguay´s plan to take Syrian refugees. 21.5.2014. Quoted 23.6.2014).
Tips for increasing authenticity in your life:
– Be yourself. Do some introspection, on a daily basis. Listen to your spirit, meditate, and be at peace with yourself. We all need to start with ourselves. After all, if we cannot be at peace with ourselves, how can we be at peace with others?
– Be genuine. Don´t be afraid of taking off your “mask”.
– Accept yourself as you are, and others will accept you too. Those who do not accept you as you truly are, are not worth your time and do not belong into your life.
– Don´t be afraid of being vulnerable. There is a crack in everything – that is how the light gets in.
– Work on yourself only. Trying to change others is forceful and useless. Be the change you want to see in the world. As soon as you are successful at mastering yourself, things will start falling into place.
– Be loving and kind. Remember – what you send out to the universe, echoes back into your life.
– Don´t try to please everyone.
– Learn how to listen to your intuition.
– Use your mind, but lead with your heart.
– Don´t try to change your whole life at once. Even if you do so, remember that small good acts are signs of improvement too.
– Face your fears, it is worth it. This does not mean you need to become reckless – safety before all – but try to move your boundaries at least every now and then.
– Breathe. Relax. Listen to your favorite music. Eat balanced. Sleep enough. Daydream.
“Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are individuals of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away”.
– Admiral James B. Stockdale
Leadership Lessons Learned
“Lighthouses don´t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” (Anne Lamott)
Everything in life happens for a reason. It is just not always so clear what that reason is. This illegibility may be the reason why I personally often philosophize and reflect the deeper purpose of worldly issues. It is quite obvious that our planet is far from being black or white, but still I often do wonder what the purpose is of having, on one side, so much beauty and goodness, and on the other side, so much evil and darkness.
Why are some people rich, and others poor? And how should the word “rich” be defined anyway? Some people are wealthy in terms of monetary value and materialism, but does this make them happier as individuals? And how is happiness defined? What makes me happy? What makes you happy? Perhaps true happiness begins with having the right mindset, by valuing everything that you have in life, both the good and the less good experiences. By being thankful even for the hardships in life – how could we otherwise grow as individuals, develop our leadership skills and grow as spiritual beings? After all, we are souls with physical bodies. Every person we meet is our teacher.
Leadership begins with knowing oneself, in understanding and in living our personal values. Each one of us has a core personality that remains the same no matter how much we develop, learn and change throughout our lives. The power of authentic leadership comes from the recognition of your true identity and living up to it. The better you are capable of connecting with your true self, and the stronger you identify yourself with your true source of being, increases the satisfaction of everything you do.
It can sometimes be difficult to remain true to yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you, and to influence you. Our world today is so full of stimulus – an endless ocean of possibilities – which makes it more difficult to choose where to put your effort and your energy. The oversupply of almost everything on our planet has actually led to many people worldwide having difficulties in decision-making, often starting from the simplest resolution. If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, I warmly recommend you to read “The Art of Choosing”, written by Sheena Iyengar.
Much has changed globally in the past century. We have traveled from the industrial revolution to the breakthrough and the new era of information technology. According to some research we are about to enter a new time of creativity, and who knows what our future keeps in storage for us. It is obvious that we are all partly responsible for the creation of our future. Since a few years, social media has grown to become a huge global industry, and whole new jobs are constantly being created through these changes. New job titles such as social media or network marketer, social media expert, SEO consultant and so on, are now commonplace. Recruitment is increasingly moving towards finding suitable candidates through different social media sites, but also through networks established by people on social media. Traditional media is, at least to some point, at a peak of change – from newspapers and television to online media and digital channels. Online business, the sense of having a global reach through social media, increases the sense of faster changes than ever. But is this actually the truth? Does change occur faster today than a few decades ago? Or is it just an illusion? I do not have the answer. I am personally just aware of the fact that we people tend to create our own time management systems, and we are both personally, as well as collectively, responsible for the hectic lifestyles that many of us lead today. Daily stress factors have already led to new global movements, such as Slow Food and people spending their vacations in retreats – just to practice yoga, and to meditate, in order to find some stillness and peace from the otherwise so noisy and hectic lifestyles.
But to get back to the actual topic: one of the important leadership lessons that I have personally learned is that we are all, in the end, personally responsible for the way we live. I do not think there is any actual measure for success. What is important for someone might not be important for another person. Each and one of us lead a personal life. Success should never be compared or measured with the achievements of other people, but rather for you as an individual. Focus on your personal life, and your values. Set personal goals. Don´t be afraid of going beyond your comfort zone! If you always stick to the same routine, without ever challenging yourself, you will not grow as a person. And if your life is too comfortable, you will not develop. Therefore, it is important to have goals, whatever their nature, spiritual or material.
Having a clear focus is also important, if you want to progress in life and career. This may be the number one lesson for me. I know from personal experience that despite of being a big picture thinker, ambitious, and determined, I have sometimes had thoughts about getting nowhere in life. But it is actually wrong, and realizing this has developed my patience to whole new levels. Life is actually about the journey – not just about reaching destinations. I know many stories about people who have reached whatever goals they have set themselves. Despite of this, many have a feeling of emptiness afterwards. When this happens, the destination has not been worth the journey – or, even worse, the journey itself was not enjoyed while trying so hard to reach the destination. Focus and determination can move mountains. I do believe that we can reach any goals we set ourselves, and fulfill any dreams we dare to dream. They just have to be worth the actual journey.
To end this writing, I´d like to share a small story about humanity.
“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.
His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the
military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by
describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be
broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while
children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of
the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the
gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body
of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.
The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said: “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you”.
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.
“Today is a gift, which is why it is called The Present “.”
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