My journey to realizing and claiming my authentic self, my voice, has felt like a bumpy and difficult process because I relied so much on feedback from others. I often felt misunderstood or that my authentic self was not okay — was there was something wrong with me? Then I came to learn about and understand my Strengths profile. When I first saw my full Strengths profile I was filled with insights and a significantly deeper understanding than I had ever had before. I thought: ‘Oh! That’s why I do what I do.’
These insights, however, do not relieve me of responsibility for my impact on others, but they do offer me information from which I can make choices in how I manifest my Strengths. This allows me to be more clear about who I am and how I chose to authentically show up. The more we come to deeply know our core selves, our strengths, our core values, and our purpose the more we can we can authentically show up.
This is part 4 in the 5-part series on Leadership Purpose by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.Leadership is not something you do to people, but the way you interact with people. Click To Tweet
The demand for authentic leadership has never been more evident. As hierarchies’ dissolve, only truly authentic leaders can fill the void. Power, trust, and followership depend on leaders, like you, who are grounded in your core self and know your purpose — expressing it through words and actions and helping others find and implement their own sense of meaning and purpose.
For most of you, it means you now realize that you need personal meaning and purpose more than ever to guide you. No corporation is going to provide it for you. You must also communicate your purpose more openly if people are going to follow you.
Without a clearly articulated purpose, meaning is elusive. People may know what’s expected of them, but may not recognize why they should care or be engaged. Leaders like you, who know themselves and what truly matters, express authenticity and inspire others to follow suit. Authentic leadership has become the most prized organizational and individual asset.
While these truths may seem evident, organizations devote little training and development to helping you discover your core self and a sense of purpose. Instead, I often see leadership training that is more tactical or prescriptive in nature, which does not reach the heart of the matter — who you are as a leader and how you show up.
If you fail to express what you stand for, followers are not going to join you. Leadership is not something you do to people, but rather the way you interact with people. It must always be viewed as a relationship between you, the leader, and your people.
Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones, authors of the b0estselling book Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006) state: “Effective leaders have an overarching sense of purpose together with sufficient self-knowledge of their potential leadership assets. They don’t know it all, but they know enough.”
Your Unique Leadership Qualities
While theories abound about characteristics and traits of good leaders, your search for the ‘right’ qualities may not serve you or your people. The universal leadership characteristic or quality that matters the most is authenticity. Yet, how that works for one person may not be the same for another because our core selves — core values, strengths and purpose — are unique.
You need to identify your distinctive core self, your assets and then effectively mobilize them. How are you unique? How can your individual strengths be deployed as powerful leadership skills?