Would you happen to have a compass?

True North: Discover your Authentic Leadership is my personal development book for February/March. 

According to Bill George and his boy Peter Sims there are five dimensions of an authentic leader: 

  • Pursuing purpose with passion- To find the purpose of your leadership you must understand your passions. 
  • Practicing solid values – DWYSYWD; every leader must have integrity; the test of a person’s values is what they practice under pressure
  • Leading with heart- Have passion for your work, compassion for others, empathy for the people you work with, and the courage to make difficult decisions.
  • Establishing enduring relationships- There is a demand for personal relationships and access to leaders. 
  • Demonstrating self-discipline- Set high standards for yourself and expect the same from others. Leaders must hold themselves and others accountable. 

“Your life story defines your leadership.” —Your life story helps you discover who you are and shapes the values of your life which will in turn guide your leadership. Your passion is embedded in your life story. —Warren Bennis advocates for us using our stories to provide the inspiration to create our futures. 

The journey to authentic leadership is broken down into 3 Phases. 

  1. Preparing for Leadership – First 30 years of your life (Whew, I’m still in that phase)/Self absorbed phase
  2. Leading – Rapid accumulation of leadership experiences 
  3. Giving Back- Can be the most productive and rewarding time of all; lack of engagement with the widespread vision of retirement

What causes leaders to lose their way? A deviation from their True North. People who lose their way get caught up in their success and external gratification but they have lost the desire to serve something greater than oneself. They are not leading with their passion and their values. 

Who are the 5 types of people that lose sight of their True North? 

  1. Imposters- lack self-awareness & self-esteem 
  2. Rationalizers- deviate from their values 
  3. Glory Seekers- motivated by seeking the world’s acclaim 
  4. Loners- fail to build personal support structures 
  5. Shooting Stars- lack the grounding of an integrated life 

Leaders can not be self-centered. The role of a leader is to empower others to lead. Turning “I” into “We” is an important aspect of authentic leadership. As a leader it is not about you but it is about motivating those around you. Tell your ego to take a hike. 

This is only Part I. 

An incredible amount of self-awareness is needed to embark on the journey to authentic leadership. Part I made me reflect a great deal on my life story and how it has played a role in my current leadership. Why do I do what I do? How has my story led me to my current station in life? When I really think about it, my life story doesn’t ostensibly make sense with what I do now in Student Affairs. Perhaps this is why I have been struggling recently with my career path? 

There are exercises in the back of the book for each chapter. Each set of questions is like having your own Oprah moment. Not the moments where she is giving out cars but the Kleenex inducing, deep internal reflection, cathartic ah-ha moments. 

My favorite quote offered by John Barth is, “The story of your life is not your life. It is your story.” I’m not a victim to my story. I must reframe my experiences and understand how they have served as a catalyst to my becoming a leader. 

I also honestly noted that I possess some traits of the “shooting star” archetype. Must work on that…

Stay tuned for a recap of Part II. 

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