Developing your own personal authentic leadership is the key to successful management according to Christo Nel, leadership development expert at Nyenrode Business Universiteit.
He said: "My career spanning 40 years, working with hundreds of people in leadership positions and several thousand MBA candidates has led me to believe deeply that these six steps to personal authentic leadership are key to a successful management career.
"Sometimes a person can be very outgoing, charismatic and seemingly capable of energising an entire hall full of people – and that individual has a reputation as a good leader. At other times I cross paths with other similar people but those around are very critical and have little respect for them as leaders. I also know people at the other end of the spectrum who operate in a very quiet and low profile manner. They seem to eschew publicity and performance in front of others. Yet again, some are deeply respected and loved as leaders, whilst other similar individuals prove to be disappointing. If leaders are not born but made and grown, and if there is no ready-formula to become a leader, then the answer must lie elsewhere. In my opinion, personal authentic leadership is where that answer lies.’’
1. Embark upon a life-long journey of learning
Initially it can help to work with a good leadership coach to turn your life into a perpetual university of personal development. By understanding how your life journey has shaped you, you can make rapid progress in courageously defining and living out your own authentic being.
2. Define and live out your authentic leadership fingerprint
Do not try to clone yourself based on what others do. Others can provide valuable lessons but take the time to think about and reach conclusions on who and what you are as a leader and what you are unlikely to be. Do not try to be all things to all people!
3. Leverage strengths: yours and others
Focus on your strengths and those of others. It is the integration and application of others' strengths that make the difference.
4. Have a council of peers
High performance leadership is a team activity in which we cannot make it alone. Make sure that you always have a small group of friends or a 'council of peers' who care for you enough to be robust, share your celebrations and give you the tough feedback you need.
5. Invite dissent
If you have two people in your management team who continuously agree with one another, then one is probably redundant. Do not look for or expect agreement that is reached too quickly or without robust dialogue. By creating an environment of trust where people feel free to disagree with you, you will tap into their experience and complement your own contributions.
6. Ready, Aim, Fire! Learn by doing
Planning is critical but plans are useless. It is impossible to plan things into perfection. Do your homework well but then act. It is only by doing something that you can rapidly discover what works well, what can be refined and what should be rejected.