Have you ever found yourself working under a leader who possesses an impressive arsenal of knowledge but struggles to connect with and motivate their team?
Or heard horror stories about impeccably credentialed executives who lack the essential art of people management?
The roots of authentic leadership aren’t grounded in your qualifications or what you do. You can learn your way around the tools, strategies, and systems your company needs to grow and thrive.
What sets you apart as a leader is how you show up to lead your business.
But what does it mean to be a leader?
What makes a great leader great?
There are countless thought pieces, books, and courses available to any intrepid entrepreneur seeking insight into these questions.
But your personal definition of leadership matters most to your business. Because operating from a place of authentic alignment will always be more strategic, more impactful, and far more sustainable than trying to lead from someone else’s roadmap.
Why You Need to Set Your Own Leadership Standard
You’re trying to model yourself after folks you look up to, leaders that inspire you – and that’s not as helpful as you might think.
You just wind up trying to live up to someone else’s ideals instead of upholding your own. You do your damndest to shape yourself into what someone else thinks “leading like a CEO” looks like because they’ve got it all figured out.
There are plenty of books and thought leaders that want you to believe you need to “lean in” and “stake your claim” if you really want to “win at business.”
But if you don’t identify with the aggressive competition and bravado, this approach will only leave you drained and disillusioned. There will never be a shortage of people willing to tell you how to do things “the right way.” By and large, they’re going to share what worked for them based on their own definitions of leadership and success.
That doesn’t mean their approach will be aligned with your values and your goals for your company.
Does it matter that they’ve “got it all figured out” when you’re left measuring yourself against standards you would never choose to hold for yourself?
Please hear me when I say this – if someone else’s leadership approach isn’t working for you, if it feels out of alignment or disingenuous at all, it is not the right way.
Authentic leadership comes from being resourced, showing up in personal and professional integrity, and acting in alignment with your own goals and values.
You don’t need to follow someone else’s template to “Become a Successful Leader.”
You need to set your own leadership standard.
How to Cultivate Authentic Leadership
Before you take any action or try to “do” anything else, start cultivating your own authentic leadership by asking yourself these questions:
- How do you see the world?
- What distinguishes you and your company from the rest of your field?
- What is the mission behind your vision?
- What are your company values?
- What kind of leader do you want to be?
Leading your business isn’t just about being the self-employed business owner, a senior executive, or The Boss. It’s about establishing your priorities, cultivating your vision, and forging a meaningful path to a prosperous future.
To do that, you need to consciously and intentionally decide what being the leader and CEO of your company means to you.
Instead of looking outside yourself for rules and “How-to’s,” reflect on how you lead in other parts of your life.
- As a parent, community member, or friend, how do you show up as a leader in your relationships?
- What’s your leadership style? Are you a nurturing guide, a thoughtful listener, or a solution-driven strategist?
- What do you see as your greatest strengths as a leader? What about your biggest challenges?
When you’re willing to take a frank look at how you show up as a leader outside of your business, you find an opportunity to explore your own innate leadership and the gifts that come naturally to you.
When you step up to own your strengths, your opportunities to grow, and how you want to show up to lead your business, you tailor the role of leader and CEO to fit you instead of contorting yourself to meet someone else’s ideals.
When you delve beneath the soundbites and expected, acceptable answers to honestly examine what leadership means to you, you begin to define it on your own terms.
And you position yourself to lead with authenticity and integrity that will set you and your company apart.
What Does it Mean to Be a Leader?
This is not a rhetorical question.
Your unique insights and perspectives shape your narrative. Your journey to authentic leadership is an ongoing exploration, a commitment to forging your own path.
How do you define authentic leadership?
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I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.