Discovering Your Authentic Leadership.
By: George, Bill, Sims, Peter, McLean, Andrew N., Mayer, Diana,
Harvard Business Review,
Feb 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 2
The largest in-depth study ever undertaken on how people can become and remain authentic leaders shows that an individual does not have to be born with any universal characteristics or traits of a leader.
Authentic leaders work hard at understanding and developing themselves. They use formal and informal support networks to get honest feedback and help ground themselves. They temper their need for public acclaim and financial reward with strong intrinsic motivations.
Discovering your authentic leadership requires a commitment to developing yourself. Like musicians and athletes, you must devote yourself to a lifetime of realizing your potential. Most people Kroger CEO David Dillon has seen become good leaders were self-taught. Dillon said, "The advice I give to individuals in our company is not to expect the company to hand you a development plan. You need to take responsibility for developing yourself."
While the life stories of authentic leaders cover the full spectrum of experiences--including the positive impact of parents, athletic coaches, teachers, and mentors--many leaders reported that their motivation came from a difficult experience in their lives. They described the transformative effects of the loss of a job; personal illness; the untimely death of a close friend or relative; and feelings of being excluded, discriminated against, and rejected by peers. Rather than seeing themselves as victims, though, authentic leaders used these formative experiences to give meaning to their lives. They reframed these events to rise above their challenges and to discover their passion to lead.