What would your life look like if you had absolutely no fear? What kinds of things would you do if you lived from a frame of reference that said, your thoughts literally formed your world? How brightly would your light shine if you stepped out of the limitations that keep you small and stretched yourself well past your comfort zone and into the place where you know, deep within, you are meant to be?
Authentic leadership is all about being the person you know in your heart you have always been destined to be. Authentic leadership does not come from your title nor from the size of your paycheck; it comes from your being--from the person you are.
Here are ten things authentic leaders do:
Authentic leaders speak their truth.
In business today, we frequently "swallow our truth," saying things to please others, to look good in front of the crowd. Authentic leaders are different: they consistently speak truth. They never betray themselves by using words not aligned with who they are. This doesn't give anyone license to say hurtful things; speaking your truth simply means being clear, being honest and being authentic.
Authentic leaders lead from the heart.
Business is about people. Leadership is about people. The best leaders wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to show their vulnerability. They genuinely care about other people and spend their days developing the people around them. They are like the sun: the sun gives all it has to the plants and the trees--and in return, the plants and the trees always grow toward the sun.
Authentic leaders have rich moral fiber.
Who you are speaks far more loudly than anything you could ever say. Strength of character is true power; people can feel it a mile away. Authentic leaders work on their character. They are noble and good. They walk their talk and stay aligned with their core values; as a result, people trust, respect and listen to them.
Authentic leaders are courageous.
It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary. It takes inner strength to do what you think is right--even when it may not be easy. We live in a world where so many people walk the path of least resistance. Authentic leadership is about taking the road less traveled and doing, not what is easy, but what is right.
Authentic leaders build teams and create communities.
Today, one of the primary things people look for in their work experience is a sense of community. In the past, we got that sense of community from where we lived. We would have block parties and street picnics. In the new age of work, employees seek their sense of community and connection from the workplace. Authentic leaders create workplaces that foster human linkages and lasting friendships.
Authentic leaders deepen themselves.
The job of the leader is to go deep. Authentic leaders know themselves intimately. They nurture a strong self-relationship. They know their weaknesses and play to their strengths. They focus a significant amount of time and energy in transcending their fears.
Authentic leaders are dreamers.
Einstein said that "imagination is more important than knowledge." It is from our imaginations that great things are born. Authentic leaders dare to dream impossible dreams. They see what everyone else sees, then dream up new possibilities. They spend a lot of time with their eyes closed, creating blueprints and fantasies that lead to better products, better services, better workplaces and deeper value. How often do you close your eyes and dream?
Authentic leaders care for themselves.
Taking care of your physical dimension is a sign of self-respect. You can't do great things at work if you don't feel good. Authentic leaders eat well, exercise and care for the temples that are their bodies. They spend time in nature, drink plenty of water and get regular body work so that they are operating physically at world-class levels of performance.
Authentic leaders commit to excellence rather than perfection.
No human being is perfect. Every single one of us is a work in progress. Authentic leaders commit themselves to excellence in everything that they do. They constantly push the envelope and raise their standards. They seek excellence rather than perfection, and have the wisdom to know the difference. What would your life look like if you raised your standards well beyond what people expected of you?
Authentic leaders leave a legacy.
To live in the hearts of the people around you is never to die. Success is wonderful; significance is even better. You were made to contribute, to leave a mark on the people around you. If you fall short of living from this frame of reference, you betray yourself. Authentic leaders constantly build their legacies by adding deep value to everyone with whom they come into contact. In the process, they leave the world a better place.
ROBIN SHARMA is the author of the national bestsellers
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Saint, The Surfer and The CEO: A Remarkable Story About Living Your Heart's Desires.
For more of his wisdom, visit www.robinsharma.com.