Here is the latest in the series of blog posts from Catherine Bell, written for the Enneagram in Business Network. In this blog, Catherine questions the meaning of “authentic” leadership and presents her own definition. In the full blog (available here), Dr. Bogda goes on to describe what an authentic leader might look like in each of the 9 Enneagram types.
Ever since I was little, I have had a fascination with leadership – what makes a good leader, what makes a bad leader, and what is a leader really? Perhaps it is simply authenticity or authentic living and that in and of itself is authentic leadership. Or, is authentic leadership simply trust, transparency, openness, responsibility, commitment, and truthfulness? Is authentic leadership feeling, thinking, and acting from a place of authenticity with wisdom from the past, not reactivity from the past? My team at work recently spent time with leadership guru Dr. Julian Barling, and he describes transformational leadership in these terms:
- Charisma – idealized influence and inspirational motivation
- Intellectual stimulation
- Idealized influence
He also discussed that transformation leadership is the embodiment of an ideal and the ability to construct yourself as the embodiment of that ideal. He also spoke of how Nelson Mandela “walked his talk” in prison, just as he did when he was free. Julian’s wisdom, combined with a discussion with a profound leader, Mac Van Wielingen (who mentions love of truth, and the ability for a leader to have a vision of the future), led me to my own definition of leadership. Here it is:
Authentic leadership is the current “now” embodiment of a future desired end state (which represents a universal truth), which may or may not be actually attainable in this lifetime.
I asked Karen Radford of People and Partners at Enbridge Inc. what leadership means to her and also about the feminine role in leadership:
“At a young age a wise man sent me out to the ‘field’ to lead a team of technicians. I was 23. I was thrown into my first leadership test. The man whose job I was filling was Jimmy Nelson. He’d been with the company for 40 years and had never had a sick day. I chased him for weeks to try and get him to tell me what I was supposed to do in my new role. When I did finally pin him down, he gave me the best authentic leadership advice I’ve ever received in my life. He said, ‘Try to be me and I guarantee you will fail. Learn to be yourself and I guarantee you will succeed.’ Everyday I work to remember my purpose, what fulfills me, and how I bring my full self to my team, our customers and the business.”
What are some of your favorite definitions of authentic leadership?
What is leadership to you?
How can you embody the feminine and the masculine in leadership?
How is Enneagram type related to how you lead?
To what extent do you “walk the talk” of leadership?
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