"Probably one or two moments in your whole life you will hear a dark whispering spirit, a voice coming from the center of things. It will have blades for lips and will not stop until it speaks the one secret thing at the heart of it all." The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
“Authenticity requires a lifelong commitment to self-discovery and self-observation… When a leader approaches the question, “How authentic am I?” It is often helpful to ask another question first:
Do our actions originate from deep within ourselves, or are they coming from a more superficial place? Is our leadership arising from our Character, the essence of who we are? Or is it coming only from our Persona, the external personality we have created to cope with life circumstances?” (Cashman, 42)
Often, when I mention authentic leadership to people they ask, “Authentic leadership, as opposed to….?”
I explain: Authentic leadership, opposed to inauthentic leadership. While working on my graduate level certification in Organizational Management and Development (OMD) I worked on teams that included both types of leaders and was direct witness to the effects of both.
Have you ever known a person who is an inspiration to many people they encounter? They are warm, compassionate, supportive, and courageously honest in their relationships. They are open to suggestions, value diversity of opinions and the input of others. They are secure enough in themselves to give credit where credit is due. These are authentic leaders.
Many authentic leaders do not hold official leadership titles because they are not ego attached to powerful positions, yet others willingly follow their lead. They are the people who inspire the phrase, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Here is a link to an article in Harvard Business review about the importance of a mindfulness practice and authentic leadership.
In other cases a leader might have a more official titles, and yet they tend to alienate others. They are controlling rather than supportive, they are rigid and highly concerned with their image and thus will not take responsibility if they make a mistake. They are often so concerned with winning that they will take credit for the work or ideas of others. These are in-authentic leaders. And their influence can often wreak havoc on an otherwise productive team.
In authentic leadership coaching we will use meditation, yoga asana, and traditional coaching techniques to observe the mind, explore the client’s special talents and skills, gently grow toward wholeness, and toward “appreciating our gifts while unfolding underdeveloped or hidden sides of ourselves.” (Cashman, 34)
Cashman, Kevin (1998). Leadership from the Inside Out. TCLG. Minneapolis.