The Secret Guide to Authentic Leadership - Secret Three and Four

The Secret Guide to Authentic Leadership - Secret Three and Four


The Secret Guide articles:

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In the journey of self-discovery and personal growth, few acts are as transformative as the decision to stand up and speak out. This commitment to expressing one's truth, despite potential backlash or unpopularity, is not merely an act of defiance but a profound declaration of one's character and values. It is a choice that defines leaders and pioneers, those who advocate not just for personal gains but for the overlooked and underestimated. It represents a deep understanding of the ethical landscapes we navigate and a readiness to shape them for the better.

Secret #3: Stand Up and Speak Out

Knowing what you’re made of is extremely important, especially when choosing to stand up and speak out may not be popular. Standing up and speaking out is an important part of who I am. I did this regularly for the little guy and the underdog. I have a strong sense of what is right, and sometimes my opinion goes against the grain of the majority. I also am a rule follower, even when it would be easier not to. I respect everyone’s opinion and listen with the goal of understanding, even if I am mocked by those in the “in” crowd.


Speaking up is about asserting your beliefs, values, and concerns in a public forum or private setting. Speaking out can effectively effect change, raise awareness, and contribute to meaningful dialogue. It requires courage and conviction and often involves stepping outside of your comfort zone. The benefits of living this secret have continued to pay dividends in all facets of my life. You can inspire others, foster empathy, and contribute to meaningful change. When you speak out for what you believe is right, you amplify your voice and contribute to the collective effort to create a more just and compassionate society. I strongly believe I should always make a positive difference in the world. Having the courage to stand up and speak out is one important way for me to make that difference.


Secret #4: Leadership and Management

I am often asked to discuss the merits and differences of leadership and management. There always seems to be some debate as to whether or not they are the same thing. From my experience, they are different but importantly compatible and needed to impact people’s lives and bottom-line results positively.

I look at management as more of a science and leadership as more of an art. A manager’s primary functions are to oversee planning, organizing, directing, and controlling (monitoring performance, evaluating results, etc.). The focus is primarily on processes, systems, and tasks.

Leadership can bring about change through inspiration. Leadership involves vision, influence, empowerment, and relationship-building. I associate leadership with these words: inspiring and motivating, persuading and guiding, encouraging, establishing trust, fostering collaboration, and promoting a positive organizational structure. Being an effective leader also means possessing strong management skills, but not all managers are necessarily effective leaders. Successful authentic leaders think with their heads but lead with their hearts.

The choice between management and leadership depends on the situation, context, and the organization's or team's needs. Here are some examples of when to use each:

  • Use management when a clear direction and coordination are needed; task completion is the primary focus; the hierarchical structure is essential; and stability and consistency are paramount.
  • Use leadership when a shared vision is necessary; change or innovation is required; building relationships and trust is important; and adapting to complexity and ambiguity.

What is an Authentic Leader?

What does it mean to be an authentic leader? It means you lead with sincerity, integrity, and genuine conviction. Authentic leaders possess self-awareness and deeply understand their values, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. It means being open and honest in your communication. My professional growth was strengthened by being “raised” by electric linemen and natural gas servicemen during my 39-year career at our local electric and natural gas utility. These employees always provided candid feedback, which I appreciated. When I have to deliver what may be hard-to-hear feedback, I do so by being respectfully candid.

Authentic leaders are consistent in terms of their words aligning with their actions. They do what they say they will do, and they lead by example, which earns the trust and respect of their followers (those entrusted to the leader’s care).

Authentic leaders genuinely care about the well-being of their team members and have the courage to stand up for what they believe is right. They are willing to take risks and make tough decisions guided by their values.

One of my favorite characteristics of authentic leaders is their positive influence. They empower their team members, foster collaboration and open dialogue, and create a sense of purpose and belonging.

Being an authentic leader comes down to being true to oneself, acting with integrity, and building genuine connections with others. Authentic leadership fosters trust, loyalty, and commitment among team members and contributes to a positive and inclusive organizational culture.

I strive to have those reporting to me in a place where I lead more than I manage.

To Wrap Things Up!

As we navigate the complexities of leadership and management, the essence of authenticity should guide our approach. True leadership transcends the mere execution of tasks; it involves inspiring, influencing, and integrating personal values into our professional roles. By standing up and speaking out, we do more than voice our opinions—we foster an environment where integrity and courage are the hallmarks of effective leadership and a more equitable and compassionate society. Let us carry forward this spirit, ensuring that our actions reflect our deepest convictions and contribute positively to the world around us.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash