6 keys to discovering your authentic leadership

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In my mid-20s, I changed my career perspective and focused on working and growing within a humanitarian context. It was not my dream job, but then I discovered that it was meaningful and gave personal fulfilment contributing something to society. I enjoyed it and worked with an INGO for more or less 15 years in various contexts (sometimes extreme ones) within a diverse environment/multi-cultural environment. These experiences allow me to perform continuous analyses on the interactions with others and fit-in the best leadership style/method in each of my field assignment.

Now, I am starting my journey to develop my authentic leadership. The journey is beginning with developing my self-awareness and be kind to myself.
Discovering my authentic leadership is a process that requires discipline and long-term commitment.

Sun Tzu, a great Chinese General, a military strategist said, “A leader leads by example and not by force”. Marshall Goldsmith emphasized that those who lead by example demonstrate passion. In my perspective, an authentic leader has to lead by example, need to have a clear understanding of the vision and passion. Authenticity means genuine, real, based on facts, accurate, reliable. 

Know yourself

How can you discover your Authentic Leadership and lead by example? Firstly, it is important that you know yourself. I believe that it is a key component of leadership, as we can’t lead others if we are not aware or understanding who we are.
In their article “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership”, Bill George and team, remind us to know who we are before starting leading others. The article highlighted that the start of our authentic leadership is by understanding the story of our lives and challenges us with questions such as :
– What is the pain and fear that we have been through in personal and professional life?
– What is the journey to go through the pain and consequences of each decision look like? 
– What motivates us?
– What is our supporting mechanism?
– Do we walk alone, or do we seek help?

Lead for the success of others

Leadership is a relationship with others, and it creates success for others. The “Discovering your authentic leadership” article emphasised empowering people to lead and highlights that authentic leaders recognize that leadership is about others success. As decisions have a high probability of change, a leader needs to be transparent in the change agenda and should increase the ownership in various stakeholder. An authentic leader will speak based on facts and sharing reliable information.

Leading others and standing for what ones believe and sharing the vision will trigger stress. More responsibility means more stress and this is the situation we can’t avoid.

Be creative as a team

The working environment often requires us to work and lead a team. As a leader, creativity is needed to reach a big objective and its end goal. In some cases, improvisation is required, and the exercise can be started with the team brainstorming or discussion. Listening and value others’ opinion will enrich the results of the final decision. Equally, it is important to discuss as a team the consequences of each decision. There are situations that can’t be avoided, hence the risk can be mitigated together. As a leader, once you possess an understanding of self-awareness, you can understand how to respond and communicate the feedback from your team. It will increase the ability to manage a relationship with others and motivate the team.

Ask difficult questions

There are some questions that we might be afraid to address or share with others. What questions that can you raise to become a leader that leads by example and become an influencer that can add value to others? Which people in your life that impacting your leadership journey? What is your motivation? Am I happy with my life? Is my life well-balanced or well-integrated?

Build a personal strategy and branding

Hubert Rampersad launched Personal Balanced Scorecard (PBSC), which can assist someone to build personal ambition and personal brand. Building a personal brand that authentic with our character requires honest analysis and understanding of personal ambitions will lead us better in defining vision and directions. The formula that Rampersad shared is PBSC = Personal critical success factors + Objectives + performance measures + Target + Improvement Action.

Focus on your strengths

I believe that to be successful, we need also to focus on our strengths and not on our weaknesses. Understanding our strength allowing us to handle our weaknesses. In their article “How to Play to Your Strength”, Morgan Roberts et. al. are mentioning Reflected Best Self (RBS) as a tool to discover who you are at your best or uncage us. This exercise can help us to find authenticity within you.


Discovering authentic leadership can lead us from being an excellent manager to becoming an extraordinary leader.


Discovering Your Authentic Leadership – George et al., Harvard Business Review, February 2007
Personal Balanced Scorecard: The Way to Individual Happiness, Personal – Dr Hubert K. Rampersad, published by Information Age Publishing in 2006
How to Play to Your Strengths – Morgan Roberts et al., Harvard Business Review, January 2005


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2 thoughts on “6 keys to discovering your authentic leadership”

  1. Excellent article, writen in language that everyboy can identify her or himself. The article provides a great introspect that can be used to build new forces for change.

  2. Xavier Lambert

    Excellent article. This is a big change compared to what is done in many companies that still focus on improving weaknesses of their employees (or trying to do) !!

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