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Authentic Leadership In Precarious World

Authentic leadership is about conviction, originality, someone doesn't feign, are genuine and actions overlap with their actual values

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Leadership is about a change. The purpose of business is to create a value for stakeholders and generate profits encompassing Vision and Mission. In doing so there has to be a striking balance between authenticity and responsibility for a growth .The business is more competitive than ever in a fast moving precarious world. To survive and grow one need to have a robust strategy in place with authenticity as an added advantage.A leader has a clear vision about the future .They have a vivid picture of what success looks like and how to achieve it .Authenticity is something that would differentiate them from the crowd and yield huge dividends on a long run.

Authentic leadership is about conviction, originality, someone doesn't feign, are genuine and actions overlap with their actual values. The life story of the leader portrays the character .They are not charismatic leader but believe in their true north gut instinct.

Steve Jobs for example wasn't a charismatic leader but someone who honestly pursued his passion and was result oriented. He believed in creating and serving the consumer with the highest quality products .He wasn't diplomatic leader and honestly expressed his feelings without sugarcoating. The board ousted him from the company that he once created from the scratch and in few years time Apple was on the verge to flounder without an authentic leader. Steve Jobs believed in his core values, executed the best of his ideas with honesty, had a clear vision about what the world would look like and was result driven. He started Pixar, Disney and 'Next' which was later brought by Apple in 1997 and was at the helm again. He restored confidence through his authentic leadership style, creating innovative high quality products like , iMac ,iPhones, iPod , iTunes and iPad admired by the consumers. Apple regained market leadership position through his vision, core values and result oriented approach.

Same is the case with Alan Mulally the former CEO and chairman of the Ford Motors company which he took over the reign in 2006. It was once on the verse of bankruptcy and he turned it around to regain the global market leader position in the automotive industry .He connected with the employees on the shop floor that no previous CEO had done and tried to figure out the root cause of the problem and ways to improve productivity. As an authentic leader he connected with empathy , brought down the labor costs from $76/hr to $55/hr through four new negotiated agreements with united automobile workers and restored confidence with trust. Ford motor company regained reverence and the global market leadership position in the automotive industry with razor sharp strategy through economic recession under the astute and authentic leadership of Alan Mulally. He left the organization with a profound legacy.

According to Professor Bill George at HBS, authentic leaders have the genuine desire to serve others with five key attributes -understanding bigger purpose, key values, trusting relationships, self discipline and mission oriented action from heart.

Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of GE said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion."The only way to differentiate them from the crowd is being true north leaders and it yields huge dividends on a long run. They should aspire to be True North leaders with focus on authenticity.

The key ingredients of True North Authentic leaders are:

1. Integrity
Authentic leaders have a high degree of integrity which means their inner valued and outward actions overlap. Such leaders are approachable by followers and trusted. There is a consistency in actions .predictable reactions, honest dealings, emotions that are well controlled are some of the attributes.

2. Dedication with humility: Dedication means complete focus on accomplishment of task in hand towards vision and mission .Its leading by example...This requires a level of humility handling a team being humble not self effacing .They are aware of their responsibilities and well acquainted with the premise that status quo is for a purpose for the larger good and are gregarious.

3. Magnanimity: It is the responsibility of a leader to ensure that credit for good work is given to people who excel and he takes the responsibility for failures. This brings the team closer and magnifies the level of trust .The hallmark of the authentic leadership is to 'spread the fame and take the blame'. Leaders are extremely open to new ideas from others that build respect and trust. They are extremely consistent when they deal with others .When followers believe in judgment the leader is being rewarded with dedication and loyalty.

4. Speaks truth from heart with moral fiber: Their talk encompasses truth .The rudimentary aspect of speaking truth is being clear, honest and authentic. They have their heart on their sleeves .Authentic leaders care for others and corroborate growing people around them is their main objective. The true power comes through the strength in character. They are very well aligned with their core values. In doing so people trust, respect and listen to them.

5. They are courageous who leave a profound legacy: Authentic leadership is about taking the road less travelled and speaking the truth at a time when crowd is against them .It takes courage being a visionary when the economy is precarious and making profit is one of the key aspect of business . They are made to contribute and grow people around them. Authentic leaders are in the hearts of their people .They build their legacy perennial in nature with deep rooted values and in the process make a world a better place to live.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Divakar Prakash

The author is a Strategy Consultant with experience of consulting CEO level executives and key stakeholders in Real Estate , Government, Not for Profit, FMCG and Chemical sectors. Educated at the School of Management ,University of St-Andrews consistently a top ranked institution in Europe at Master's level in business Strategy, Corporate Finance and General Management

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