Authentic Leadership - To Be Or Not To Be?
Monday, February 13, 2012 at 02:35PM
Paul Hunting

Few leaders realise, how much, how little, will do. - Lao Tzu

If leadership is not authentic, then what is it? It may be called leadership, but it cannot be. It's a pretence, a shadow, an illusion, an ego expression... there are many words for it. Authenic leadership is our natural state. We are born with it. It is our birthright to enjoy. It's not something we need to learn. We don't need to rehearse to be ourselves. Inevitably, however, as we learn to cope with life's slings and arrows from childhood, we begin to falsely identify with the feelings in our false self, our ego. In order to experience the joy of authenticity in leadership and life, it behoves us to unlearn the false beliefs and habits that nest in our consciousness like a cuckoo. We do need to challenge the false self and transcend the limitations it imposes. We do need to reclaim the energy it drains off us in order to maintain its tyranny.

Shakespeare, one of the greatest leadership gurus of all time, said it thus "And this above all, to thine ownself be true, and thou cans't not then be false to any man."

Why should business leaders care whether they have an authentic culture? Would you care if you bought an expensive racehorse and it only perfomed like a tired old donkey? What if you were settling for a whole lot less than your greatest possibility in your people and your business performance? Why do you think that we humans repeatedly create cycles of crippling recession? Because at a deep fundamental level, we are not enjoying authentic leadership - in ourselves and from those in power.

You do have the power to change this right now. Of course you don't want to dig deep into your inner self and confront your worst fears. Of course you don't want to appear weak, foolish, vulnerable. Who does?

But as Franklin D Rooseveldt famously said, 'The only thing to fear is fear itself'. The only thing that distinguishes an authentic leader from his false counterpart is courage. The courage to risk facing the truth.

Ironically, when people spend a few hours in a horse-assisted coaching session, they inevitably discover that, when honestly challenged, their worst fears are lies and illusions that dissolve and dissipate like smoke. They also discover the truth about themselves - that they can influence people and bulid effective relationships at a whole new level of grace, ease and authority.

Executive coaching, training, equine facilitated learning, horse-assisted education, NLP, you name it... are all a total waste of time and money - unless they help you break through to your true self and enjoy the magic of authentic leadership.

Do get in touch to see how you and your people will benefit from greater authenticity in leadership.

Article originally appeared on authentic leadership skills development (
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