The Secret Guide to Authentic Leadership - Secret One and Two

The Secret Guide to Authentic Leadership

According to Patty!

 Secret's One and Two



Let's Get Started!

Throughout my 40+ years of experiencing leaders and being a leader myself, I’ve contemplated those leaders who have positively influenced my life and reviewed my words and actions and how they have impacted those entrusted in my care as a leader.

The Guide

I started this guide because of a formal program our company started about five years before I retired. The "Aspiring Leadership Program” is a one-year leadership training program for six employees who apply and are selected by a combination of Human Resources leadership and executive leadership. The training program provides the six employees exposure to various departments and leaders within our company as well as a group project for that specific year. The goal is that each of these six employees become better educated about the total workings of our company. The various levels of leadership had the opportunity to observe and experience these employees’ skills in action for consideration of future leadership opportunities, i.e., projects and/or positions.

My Goal

I was one of their "stops" during their year tenure. They would each spend about 90 minutes with me. I was asked by the executive leadership to share my wisdom. I sort of chuckled since I did not view myself as any type of guru but rather as a leader who did some things right and had many areas in which to improve. Consequently, my goal was to highlight my faux pas and mistakes and also share some experiences and concepts that worked that these future leaders may consider using in their leadership journey.

My Role

I have always taken my role as a leader very seriously because I, like you, have been positively influenced by leaders. I have also been negatively influenced by people in positions of power, and I didn't want to be like those negative influencers. With that in mind, I decided to take a somewhat different approach than I thought our other leaders would take. I’d share all the things that I never learned in school. The things I learned from the mistakes I made. The things I observed good leaders do. The things I tried and succeeded at, and so I tried them again, and I remember saying to these up-and-coming leaders, "I wish there was a book of the secrets to becoming a successful, authentic leader.”  I then started keeping my list of secrets to share with others. As we all realize, success is defined in the eye of the beholder. I wanted to be authentic. I have always taken pride in being me, being my best self. I never followed the crowd, even as a kid, and I almost enjoyed standing out, but maybe not like you think.

For the most part, my time with these future leaders and the purpose of this secret guide is the stuff I wasn’t taught in my formal education or information that wasn’t emphasized. It's based on "Patty's" truths.

As you read through these several secrets (two in this blog), you decide what pieces you want to try on as a leader and the ones you feel are worth holding on to; feel free to toss the rest aside. They are in no particular order.

Secret #1: Finding Your Inner Voice

Part of being an authentic leader is finding your inner voice. It’s finding what you're made of, your character, and your mental and moral qualities. It’s deciding who you are, what you'll stand up for, and what you want to be known and remembered for. Your inner voice is like having a little voice inside your head that provides you with counsel and warning. Tuning into your inner voice means paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and instincts.

How do you recognize your inner voice? First of all, it can take some practice. You can tell that you are having an inner monologue when:


  • You get a feeling in your gut or your heart
  • You have thoughts that feel like a gentle suggestion or intuition and/or
  • The feeling you get feels authentic and true to who you are, not influenced by others’ opinions

Because everyone’s inner voice is unique, you need to spend time getting to know yours and learning to trust it.

Why is listening to your inner voice valuable? It’s valuable for several reasons, for example:

  • Introspection – it helps you understand yourself better
  • Resolution – it provides valuable insights and guidance when making choices
  • Intuition – it can alert you to potential dangers or opportunities
  • Emotional well-being – it can help you understand and navigate your feelings

Listening to your inner voice fosters self-trust and empowers you to live a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

As a leader, listening to your inner voice can be particularly valuable for enhancing your ability to empathize with others, which can help you better relate to the experiences and perspectives of those in your leadership care. This, in turn, can enhance your leadership effectiveness.

Secret #2: Your Legacy

Leaving a legacy means giving something or leaving something behind that will be valued by those who come after you and were directly or indirectly influenced by the professional or personal wake you leave behind. Hopefully, it is your life's positive impact on other people. Your legacy is the sum of your personal values, accomplishments, and actions that resonate with the people around you.

Legacies can take many forms, such as core values, beliefs, and ethical principles, making a positive difference in the lives of others and contributing to the advancement of innovation and change. Leaving a legacy ensures that your influence continues to sculpt the world long after you are gone.

Earlier in my career journey, I was asked by my mentor, and I’m asking you for your consideration:

  • “What legacy do you want to leave because you were a leader?”
  • “When you’re gone, how do you want to be remembered at work?”
  • “When someone mentions your name, what words do you wish to hear as they describe you and your leadership style?

Why do this exercise, you may be thinking? One reason is you can then use your answer as a screen for basing decisions and for how you want to treat people. It shapes your leadership style, for example:


  • I want to be remembered for being fair and treating everyone with respect.
  • I want to be referred to as a person and leader who is honest and a person of my word.
  • My legacy is to positively impact the lives of all those whom I may never meet.


To Wrap it Up!

Reflecting on my 40-plus years of both witnessing leadership and being a leader myself, writing this guide felt like a natural step to share the distilled essence of my experiences. The journey of crafting this guide and leading the Aspiring Leadership Program was not just about imparting knowledge but about fostering a space where emerging leaders could genuinely grow and understand the nuances of effective leadership. My intention was never to position myself as a guru but to present myself as a fellow learner who has navigated many highs and lows on this path. Through the secrets shared and the personal anecdotes of success and failure, I hope to equip future leaders with the tools to find their inner voice and carve out a meaningful legacy. The guide in its entirety is a culmination of all the unspoken truths and hard-earned insights that I've gathered, aimed at inspiring leaders to lead with authenticity and empathy, ensuring they make a positive, lasting impact in whatever roles they assume.

Photo by donterase on StockSnap