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10 Steps for Using Leader Types to Become A More Authentic Leader

Innovative Leadership Leader TypeThis post is part 2 of a six part series on using Innovative Leadership approach to building authentic leadership. Last week’s post provided an overview.

Susan, a social service executive, tests as a loyalist using the Enneagram personality typing system. She is committed, reliable, hard-working, responsible, trustworthy, and security-oriented. Though she is cautious and has problems with self-doubt, she’s quite methodical and also passionate about the value her work provides to our community. She evaluates how her projects will impact the organization’s clients, her own children and future generations, and is focused on building the Board, infrastructure, systems and program required to promote a better future. These qualities make her an exceptional Executive Director. She’s an excellent “troubleshooter” and can foresee problems and foster cooperation, but Susan—often running on stress—can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious.

She focuses heavily on process and has sense of urgency issues which limit her ability to be an exceptional leader of people and projects. After taking the Enneagram assessment, she was able to identify her strengths and deficiencies. By understanding her authentic type and building on her strengths, she has improved her leadership ability. To augment her strengths, she also needed to build the capacities where she showed limitations—one of which was the capacity to be patient under stress. She started by trying small experiments in leading with patience that were appropriate for her work environment. She documented these experiments in a journal that allowed her to reflect on what was blocking his success as well as what was working well.

Over time she began to receive very positive feedback that these experiments were working, and her ability to be empathetic evolved into an authentic skill. While this may never be her strongest skill, she has made great progress in understanding what others need from her and developing the skills to relate more effectively. Her success is attributed to both hers willingness to learn about herself and also to take corrective action to address a gap in her skills and comfort level.

Susan is hardly alone in needing to expand her leadership capacities. All leaders must adapt and expand the way they lead, whether it’s to accommodate growth in their organization, a new position or a change in the community’s expectations, increasing leadership capacities is a critical need for leaders.

Part of the challenge in building authentic leadership is learning to leverage the clarity of your introspection. You can only be authentic if you understand who you truly are. Looking inside yourself and examining the makeup of your inner being enables you to function in a highly-grounded way, rather than operating from the innate biases of uninformed decision-making.

First and foremost, start by simply considering your disposition, tendencies, inclinations, and ways of being. Authentic leadership hinges on understanding the simple, native manner in which you show up in your life. One way to observe this is by examining key aspects of your inner being, often called Leader Type, which reflect a leader’s personality type. The leader personality type is an essential foundation of your personal makeup, critically influencing who you are as a leader and greatly shaping the effectiveness of your leadership. The ancient adage “know thyself” holds true as a crucial underpinning in leadership performance and a key tool to learn about your leadership type is through an assessment. We work with the Enneagram and recognize there are many very effective tools. We encourage leaders to create an environment in which people are given tacit permission to be themselves, allowing them to focus energy on their skills, rather than using that energy to fit into an alternate expectation. It also has the added benefit of aligning individuals with the culture of the overall group.

The focus of higher education, historically, have been on the value of hard skills and technical know-how, yet our experience shows the most important thing business, nonprofit management and public administration graduates need to learn as new leaders is self-awareness and the resulting ability to accept feedback and reduce denial in their perceptions of themselves and their actions.

This speaks to the emerging deep recognition that leaders who are unable to manage their authentic personality quirks and biases, can derail the most progressive initiatives toward an organization’s sustainable success. The real goal is to understand who you are at your core, build on your strengths, and manage prejudice and idiosyncrasies.

Recommendations to improve your leadership authenticity using the focus on leader type:

  1. Take a personality type assessment;
  2. Learn about your type;
  3. Get input from others on what they think is most effective and least effective about your leadership style relative to your professional goals;
  4. Do a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) assessment to evaluate how your type maps to your work;
  5. Identify the strengths on which you can build, and the weaknesses and threats may interfere with your success;
  6. Create a development plan that includes defining daily practices to support development, including introspective routines;
  7. Seek assistance in accomplishing your plan and getting feedback from trusted others;
  8. Make the change you defined in your plan.

Your ability to use deep introspection relies on your development of, and a capacity for, self-understanding and self-awareness. Employing a deeper understanding of Leader Type for both yourself and others is a powerful tool to promote authentic leadership.

Next week’s blog post will focus on Developmental Perspective.

Maureen will be a presenting Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating how You Lead at the WELD Leadership conference on June 4, 2015 at Otterbein University in Columbus Ohio. Click for more information.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Five Steps to Building Authentic Leadership

CEOs biking to workLeadership guru, Warren Bennis, says: “letting the self emerge is the essential task of leaders. Indeed, leadership is, first and foremost, all about you. People often have a misguided notion that leadership is about everyone else. But if a leader hasn’t journeyed inside first to get clear on his or her values, strengths, passion and vision, their lack of authentic grounding will cause them to behave in inconsistent ways, eroding trust and undermining their leadership effectiveness.”

Bill is a highly-skilled leader. Self-aware, he makes a concerted effort to create an environment in which each of his team members can be their most effective at work. He has assembled a diverse staff with unique skills and a lot of idiosyncrasies, and he has worked hard to help this staff of stars come together as a cohesive team.
One morning he arrives to find an obviously upset employee, Michelle, sitting in his office. Michelle, who is clearly concerned about the condescending behavior of another colleague, suggests that the work environment Bill created is hostile and not supportive enough for her to do her best work. She feels belittled by her colleague and is seeking Bill’s support to ensure the office in which they work is conducive to delivering top quality service to their clients. As she leaves, Bill thinks about his leadership style. He asks himself if his style has created an environment that promotes a positive work environment for all employees. Is he allowing some people to treat others in a negative or unsupportive way? Is there anything he could do differently to promote a more productive and supportive environment? How can he create an environment that allows unique people to be themselves and, at the same time, work as a cohesive team? Bill’s instincts say he has created a positive environment but now he hears from a valued employee that he may not be doing as well as he thought. Fundamentally, the question becomes: Is Bill’s authentic leadership style supportive of organizational success? Does he need to refine his style or develop as a leader to be both authentic and create a positive environment?

These questions beg a new one: How can leaders be authentic and encourage others to do the same while concurrently meeting the needs of the overall team and organization?
Let’s start with a definition of authenticity from a recent Forbes article by Henry Doss: “Learning about yourself is perhaps the single most important outcome of a powerful educational experience. Self-awareness can lead to an ever-increasing authenticity, which in turn leads to powerful leadership abilities. Authenticity is not about ’accept me for what I am‘; authentic leaders are self-aware, willing to adapt and change and ’be who they are in service to others.’ Education should be a powerful process of increasing self-awareness, of coming to know yourself and of learning the intrinsic value of who you are as a human being. . . and then understanding the need for constant change, personal growth and learning for the rest of your life.” 

Innovative Leadership Model

Innovative Leadership Model

Let’s explore how the five elements of innovative leadership can help leaders become more authentic. By using the five key elements of the innovative leadership pyramid as described below, you become a more authentic and effective leader:

  1. Build your self-awareness by understanding your Leader Type.  Take an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. The balance of self-awareness and understanding others allows colleagues to be authentically who they and also aligned with the culture of the overall group.
  2. Understand your own Developmental Perspective (complexity of thinking, emotional intelligence, and behavior) and the perspectives of others allows you to take the perspective of many different people. By understanding the primary perspective of your colleagues and meeting them where they are, you are showing the highest degree of respect and appreciation. The golden rule of authentic leadership could be “treat people as they need to be treated to perform at their best.” Since we are all unique, and have different expectations, treating others as you want to be treated may create some significant problems for leaders.
  3. Enhancing Resilience includes developing a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, and knowing your strengths and preferences. It also includes understanding others’ strengths and preferences, and demonstrating the flexibility to respond to another’s level appropriately. Developing emotional intelligence skills increases your leadership success.
  4. Applying Situational Analysis is the combination of understanding yourself and the organization. By using situational analysis, you are able to understand the balance between your values and the needs of the organization and act in a manner that attends to your authenticity while balancing the organization’s expectations and norms. This means you can read the situation quickly and respond accordingly. This does not mean you change your innate preference or act in a way that is not genuine, but rather in many cases learn to expand your repertoire of skills and behaviors. It is a bit like learning to swing forehand and backhand in tennis. You’ll continue to have preferences, but, by expanding your abilities, you can be both authentic and agile.
  5. Aligning Leadership Behaviors means behaving in a manner that is authentic to you, and appropriate to the organization and situations in which you find yourself. To do this well it means you need access to a broad range of behaviors and have the skills referenced in situational analysis to diagnose the organization’s requirements and your authentic style, and have the skills to balance both.

How can leaders be authentic and encourage others to do the same while concurrently meeting the needs of the overall team and organization? The innovative leadership model offers some support in identifying who you are so you understand what authentic is for you. From there, you will have a strong foundation to determine how to navigate the questions of authenticity and being a good organizational steward. This navigation is the art of leadership.

I will be a presenting Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating how You Lead at the WELD Leadership conference on June 4, 2015 at Otterbein University in Columbus Ohio. Click for more information.

To read more about Authentic Leadership, read the full paper published in Integral Leadership Review.

If you wonder about the image, it is from CEO bike to work day in Columbus, Ohio. This represents for me leaders who model their authentic values through their actions.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Defining Vision Based Actions for College Students – Eric’s Story

Vision Based ActionsI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my summer internship at Metcalf & Associates, a leadership and management consulting firm. I am entering my final semester at T­he Ohio State University in the fall, majoring in Strategic Communication. I like marketing, and I plan to go to business school in a few years. I’m also on the varsity fencing team at Ohio State.

This summer, I am starting a blog that helps students find their life purposes, plus a step-by-step guide on how to bring this vision into reality. The information I am giving you is from a workbook written by a combination of college faculty and leadership development and executive coaching experts who make business executives very successful. This book will be published late in 2014. In this post, you will find your personal values. Throughout this blog, I will provide my own answers to the exercises as an example. This is part three of the four-part Vision topic. My answers are in italics.

In this post, I’ll show you how to set a realistic career direction based on your vision.  In the last two posts, we discussed creating your vision and identifying your personal values. In the next post I will give my answers to some great reflection questions. It turns out reflection  is a key part of this process.  

Putting Vision into Action

Now that you have your vision outlined, it’s important to put your vision into action. Consider your values and vision, as well as your individual skills. In this exercise, you will find ways to incorporate your passions into how you make a living. Also think of ideas or topics that you find extremely interesting, and are somehow involved in almost everything you do – school, work, social activities, entertainment media, etc.

Step 1: Identify your foundation.

  • What are you most passionate about?
    • Values: love, excellence, meaningful work
    • Respect
    • Order or being organized
    • Creativity
    • Doing things the right way and not cutting corners
    • Doing the right thing in general
    • Success/winning
    • I would be lying to myself if I didn’t put “food” on this list
    • Deep thinking
  • What are your economic needs and what can you do to meet them?
    • Overall financial stability; enough to not be worried in case of some family emergency, such as one of my family members needing a surgery.
    • Sufficient funding for the NPO that I would like to create.
    • Somewhere between a modest upper-middle class lifestyle and the guy from ‘The Wolf of Wallstreet’
    • Business strategy
    • Marketing/sales
    • Project management
    • Public speaking
  • What can you be great at?
    • Marketing/sales
    • Business strategy
    • Project management
    • Friend
    • Philanthropy/non-profit work
    • Teamwork
    • Public speaking

Step 2: Review and Identify Overlap.

  • Creativity and deep thinking are involved in all of the professional skills that I can be great at (my creativity led me to initially try marketing and strategy)
  • Excellence and success in my professional field(s) can create wealth
  • Doing the right thing and love overlap with philanthropy
  • Having a lot of money of my own can help fund my NPO
  • Meaningful work and philanthropy
  • Business strategy
  • Marketing/sales
  • Project management
  • Public speaking

Step 3: Harvest the ideas.

  • Based on overlaps, do you see anything that can be incorporated in what you do or how you work?
    • My passions for creativity, excellence, deep thought, and success, combined economic needs/wants, tell me that I should pursue a career that involves marketing, business strategy, and/or project management.
    • I should work in companies and projects that I find meaningful, ethical, and benefitting others

Look at your answers carefully and think of as many ideas and overlaps as possible. Even if there is something you think is useless right now, it’s good to write it down anyway.

Next week I will share my answers to key reflection questions. Building the reflection “muscle” is important as a leader. I will share my reflections for each step in the leadership development process.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Notes From the Field: Aligning Myself With the Organization

Situational AnalysisWelcome to the Notes from the Field! In this series of posts, Alice will talk about how she used the five elements of innovative leadership to select a new job and transition into her new role effectively. She’ll explore each element in depth and provide examples of how she applied them in her own words.

Situational Analysis: Optimize Alignment With The Organization

A helpful tool for developing and increasing capacity for innovative leadership and transition into a new role is the use of Situational Analysis as outlined in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer. Essentially, listed below, there are four dimensions of realities. The objective is to understand each, their interconnections and alignments, and create a balance between them:

  • Self
  • Action
  • Culture
  • System

Creating Balance through Practice:

Innovative and authentic leadership takes a great deal of practice and awareness. I am finding that a key element of innovative leadership is increasing my awareness of the four dimensions referenced in the bullets above. By being aware of examining the elements helps me look at how I fit within the organization and align myself in key areas in a way that is both authentic and effective.

For me, it’s unnatural to stop and consider awareness through all four dimensions. I may often reflect on how something will impact me, or my values, and how it will impact the culture of the organization, but I often miss the systems perspective. One way to minimize this exposure is to include someone responsible for the organizational systems in the discussion to be sure that an accurate point of view is being portrayed. So, I am learning that it may not be possible to gather all facts from one desk. This exercise can be a method of communication and transparency for teams across the organization.

Reflection – My personal responses:

1. Individual self/beliefs: What are my values and how do they impact my performance? How are my values aligned with this role?

I feel my values are currently aligned with the values of the organization and my new role. My highest value is integrity. This means I have an innate expectation that I act honestly in every situation and I expect those in my work environment to do the same.  I see integrity in the eyes of my employer and in the actions of the key staff, and value that I am working with people who consistently care about doing the right thing.

My second value is respect. To me, this means admiring strengths in others and myself, openness to a fresh and different point of view, and common courtesy of time and expectations of others, and treating myself with the same respect I treat others. Respect for coworkers and the organization also requires me to pause (think about what I want from the interaction before speaking) to consider the four elements referenced above.

While onboarding, I was challenged with an expectation to “drop-in” on other sales professionals during their day, with the objective to market and maintain “top of mind” as a vendor. I struggled with this for a couple of weeks because I felt that I was being disrespectful of their time, and I didn’t feel as I was being treated with respect in return. Simply put, I struggle to manage what seems like a conflict with my value of respect. I will continue to look for ways to accomplish my goals while demonstrating respect for others.

2. Action: How do my values impact my actions?

Actions are the physical demonstrations of values. It’s putting your vision and values into action. The impact of my decisions while interacting with clients and business prospects will be based on what the organization expects from me, but also on what I am comfortable doing.

In an effort to align myself with the marketing objective of staying top of mind, I have requested a slight change in my function to allow for calling in advance to schedule my visits in an effort to be respectful of others’ time, and increase the efficiency in the system for the organization. This in turn, has allowed me to feel freer in my role, and I am finding that the business prospects are showing respect for me and my organization.

I find as I get more familiar with the organization that other behaviors they expect are aligned with what is natural to me. I am very much customer service- and results- focused, and provide great support. My performance evaluation will be looking at these behaviors, so I anticipate not only an alignment between my values and my behaviors, but, also, an alignment of my behaviors and the performance management system.

3. Culture: How do my values align with our culture and values?

The primary mission of the organization is to take care of the customer, do it profitably, and honor each other and God in all that is done. From an onboarding standpoint, it has been refreshing to know that the key employees of this organization have been trained with this mentality and are aligned with my values. If this first dimension were not aligned, I would have had a longer and more stressful onboarding process and I might have discovered I accepted a job that isn’t a right fit for me. Evaluating the organization’s beliefs creates awareness for me to build a foundation and understand the culture. This awareness will, in turn, be necessary when I am making decisions on behalf of the organization.

4.  System: Are my actions aligned with what is expected in the organization?

This dimension ties together the previous three realities and should be given deep consideration. In my role, I am still working on understanding the systems, network, processes, and dynamics of the group. It’s interesting to note how systems can greatly vary across different organizations, and understanding the various cultures and values points to different structures and beliefs. This will be an area in which I will focus and reflect more on as I mature in the role. What I have learned thus far is that I am comfortable with the overall culture and it appears I am performing in accordance with their expectations of me. I have not yet had any surprises. I will plan a three month and six month review with my new boss to ensure I am meeting the organization’s goals and identify any areas where I can make improvements.

Overall, it is important to keep in mind that I need to understand myself and the organization and make a conscious effort to be both authentic and true to myself while also aligning my behaviors with the culture and systems of the organization. In this way, I will be able to navigate effectively moving forward without compromising my values or those of others in the organization.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Three Steps to Build Authentic Leadership Behaviors

Authentic LeaderHow to use the five elements of innovative leadership to become a more authentic leader is the focus of this five-blog series. We will explore each element in depth and provide recommended next steps. The fifth component of innovative leadership is demonstrating effective leadership behaviors help you become more authentic and create a more authentic workplace.

According to the Harvard Business Review article, “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership: ”No one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but there is no way you can be successful when you are trying to be like them. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not a replica of someone else. Amgen CEO and President Kevin Sharer, who gained priceless experience working as Jack Welch’s assistant in the 1980s, saw the downside of GE’s cult of personality in those days. “Everyone wanted to be like Jack,” he explains. “Leadership has many voices. You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else.”

Last week we talked about situational analysis and the importance of aligning your leadership approach to the organization while balancing being true to yourself. This week I would like to extend that discussion by talking about the need to balance “fitting in” with being authentic.

I work primarily with senior leaders and one might think that the organization bends to you rather than you bending to it once you reach this level. This is far from the truth in many cases. One of the challenges facing many leaders I have coached is choosing the “right” level of authority versus asking for input. I worked with a General Manager of an organization during his strategic planning process. As he was preparing for an off-site meeting to determine the organization’s path and plan a very significant transition, he began soliciting input from his team. What he heard was quite surprising to him. Some people were delighted to give input and wanted to be involved in most decisions. Others wanted him to set the strategy and tell them their division goals—they would determine Division plans, but were uninterested in setting overall strategy and, moreover, thought he was not doing his job if he needed too much input from them. (This has been a common theme among my clients, trying to get the right balance on the continuum between people who want to provide input on everything to those who do not want to provide any.) My client’s authentic desire was to get input from everyone and he learned that if he did what is most natural to him, he wouldn’t be effective with some members of his team.

As authentic leaders, it would seem we should be able to do what comes naturally; yet, authenticity it is less effective than responding to what your team needs from you. So, we return to an earlier question: Can I be authentic if I am tailoring my behavior to what others want or need from me? My answer is that you have a broad range of authentic behaviors and it is possible to be both true to yourself AND meet your stakeholders’ needs (boss, peer, subordinate, or client).

So, what are the steps to demonstrate authentic leadership behaviors?

  1. Know what you stand for and understand your values. We provide several values assessments in our workbooks and many others are available online and through a wide range of sources. By understanding your true values you begin to set the baseline for what you hold true to. For items that are not part of your core values, you have flexibility in how you respond.
  2. Understand your stakeholder values and type. We have talked about type and developmental perspective as two good tools to better understand your stakeholders. If you are working closely with someone, it may be helpful to understand their values. You can often gain a basic understanding by listening, observing things and knowing what someone does outside of work. Do they volunteer? Do they spend weekends with family? Do they take vacations that involve adventure? What do they read?
  3. Practice tailoring conversations and behaviors to others in a way that will be authentic to your values. You may even want to practice a few scenarios in preparation for tough negotiations or difficult discussions. By knowing your values, you have a foundation that guides you on where to adjust and where to stay true to yourself.

Authentic leaders are true to themselves, they honor their personal values and commitments, and they also adapt to situations so they can provide the leadership needed by their stakeholders. These stakeholders are likely to have a broad range of expectations of the leader—and having a one-size-fits-all “authentic” approach to all situations is suboptimal. The best leaders are able to honor their own style and still meet others where they are.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Becoming an Authentic Leader: Using Situational Analysis

Situational Analysis How to use the five elements of innovative leadership to become a more authentic leader is the focus of this five-blog series. We’ll explore each element and provide recommended next steps. The fourth component of innovative leadership is how an understanding of situational analysis helps you become more authentic and creates a more authentic workplace.

According to a Forbes article, “What is Authentic Leadership?” most theorists agree on four points. The first is: Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine. Authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They also show their real selves to their followers. They do not act one way in private and another in public; they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They also realize that being self-actualized is an endless journey, never complete.”

I recently conducted a workshop with a client that used the situational analysis framework to address a very complex corporate issue. The company, like many, is trying to balance cutting an employee benefit to remain profitable without impacting employee morale, engagement and organizational culture. This is a private company with a very strong belief in caring for their employees and consistently providing benefits higher than the industry standard. In a highly competitive industry with very thin margins, these benefits impact overall organizational performance and—if not managed carefully—can have a negative financial impact on the organization.

During the workshop with the entire leadership team we asked a set of four questions to encourage an open discussion of the balance between their beliefs, behaviors, culture, and organizational systems.

Situational Analysis Reflection Questions

Individual self/beliefs

    1. List my top three personal values as a leader.
    2. How do my values impact this decision?
Action

    1. How will this decision impact my ability to live my values?
    2. How will this decision impact my behavior as a leader?
Culture

    1. How does this decision align with our purpose and values?
    2. How does this decision impact our ability to meet our goals
System

    1. Is this decision aligned with our systems? If we implement it, will there be conflicts that confuse people?
    2. Will making this choice cause us to miss our goals in other areas of the business?

Using these questions as the foundation, the leadership team explored the pros and cons of their possible options. In addition to addressing this specific complex issue, they also adopted this approach to addressing other issues.

So, what does this have to do with authentic leadership? Leaders must be self-aware and genuine. The first two sets of questions in the table help leaders discuss their personal values in an organizational setting and explore how those values impact current decisions. Then they talk about how to address a current challenge by taking action on their values. This approach becomes most valuable when the leadership team grapples with the balance of personal values and organizational requirements. These often come into conflict and leaders are compelled to choose between two undesirable options: violating their values, or making decisions that are opposed to the organization’s best interest.

While there is no easy solution to the complex problems organizations are facing, we believe this approach to exploring challenges candidly and discussing personal beliefs and values, individual actions, organizational culture, and organizational systems creates shared support for decisions and provides a powerful platform for open dialogue about complex issues. Because it takes into account values along with profitability, this approach builds trust among leaders that the process is ethical.

As an authentic leader in a complex environment, you will regularly be making difficult decisions. This approach to decision making can help you think through the challenges and ask yourself the questions that allow you to remain authentic and ethical, and still make the tough decisions required for your organization to survive. As others begin to understand and trust this process, they will also see you as more authentic and more readily trust your leadership.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Becoming An Authentic Leader: Six Questions to Build Resilience

Resilience and HealthHow to use the five elements of innovative leadership to become a more authentic leader is the focus of this five-blog series. We will explore each element in depth and provide recommended next steps. The second component of innovative leadership is how an understanding of resilience helps you become more authentic and also create a more authentic workplace.

According to the Forbes article, “Authenticity: Your Greatest Leadership Asset,” leadership guru, Warren Bennis, says: “…letting the self emerge is the essential task of leaders. Indeed, leadership is, first and foremost, all about you. People often have a misguided notion that leadership is about everyone else. But if a leader hasn’t journeyed inside first to get clear on his or her values, strengths, passion and vision, their lack of authentic grounding will cause them to behave in inconsistent ways, eroding trust and undermining their leadership effectiveness.”

The other day I met with a client who is struggling with health challenges for the first time in his life. At forty-one years old, he has been blessed with great health until back problems forced him to take a leave of absence from work He was given surgical and non-surgical treatment options to address his back condition. The non-surgical choices involved managing his stress and lifestyle as well as a daily routine of exercise and stretching. While the non-surgical option may seem easier compared to the surgical option, the underlying dilemma is facing the fact that he cannot live up to his own expectations of himself. He is young and suffering stress-related physical problems that, if he does not get under control, will likely result in chronic pain for years to come.

This week we are examining how resilience impacts authentic leadership. We define resilience as the ability to remain flexible and focused in the face of ongoing change. In my client’s case, he quite literally cannot physically remain flexible and focused.

So, what does this have to do with authentic leadership? To be a resilient leader, we need to attend to several personal elements of ourselves: our physical wellbeing, our thinking, our emotional intelligence, our sense of purpose, and our connections and support system. As an authentic leader, we must be honest with ourselves and others about what allows us to be resilient as individuals and as an organization.

As you read the Forbes reference above, it seems so simple: be true to yourself. For our leader, a major part of him being authentic is facing his physical limitations and being authentic with others about what he can and would be willing to do with regard to work schedule that will balance with his personal health needs. This man works for a large consulting firm where leaders pride themselves on their stamina, persistence, and always achieving results beyond what others could deliver—which may be part of the root of the problem. Now he must rethink who he can authentically be and face the reality of his physical limitations. Although we will all will face this at some point in our lives and careers, most of us never really think about it until a dramatic event such as taking medical leave forces us to reassess the choices we make and how we’re living. Now, my client is coming to terms with his humanness, and facing his limitations for the first time, and needing to figure out what it even means to be true to himself. Does he retain his stressful job as a consultant—the only professional job he has known? What other avenue does he have to pursue his passion and make an impact on the world?

How you can put resilience to work for you to become more authentic? Here are six questions to consider as indicators of your resilience as a leader:

  1. Am I taking the actions I need to take to remain physically healthy over the longer term?
  2. Do I manage my thinking throughout the day, every day (minimize negative self-talk, be gentle and kind in how I think about myself, express gratitude regularly, have reasonable expectations of myself and others, etc.)?
  3. Do I demonstrate strong emotional self-awareness and self-management?
  4. Do I have a sense of life purpose that inspires daily and helps me keep the less important annoyances in perspective?
  5. Do I have a spiritual practice that supports my well-being?
  6. Do I have a support system that supports and encourages me during good times and bad?

If you’ve answered no to any question on the list, my challenge to you is that you be honest with yourself first. If you’ve answered no, what changes can you make in the short term to move toward greater resilience? If you’ve answered no, are you honestly willing to be honest with yourself and others to move toward resilience?

As a resilient leader, you are more able to respond to the ongoing challenges of your role with clear thinking and presence. This, in turn, allows you to continue to be authentic with yourself and others around you. It also allows you to promote resilience in your workgroup so that you can ensure others are also able to perform at their highest capacity.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet—thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing—consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

— Lance Secretan

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Army Medicine

Using Leader Type to Build Authentic Leadership

IntrospectionHow to use the five elements of innovative leadership to become a more authentic leader is the focus of this five-blog series. We will explore each element in sufficient depth and provide recommended next steps. The first component is how an understanding of leader type helps you become more authentic and also create a more authentic workplace.

First, understand your leadership type by taking an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. An environment in which people are given tacit permission to be themselves allows them to focus their energy on their skills, rather than using it to fit into an expectation and aligns individuals aligns with the culture of the overall group.

Paul, an engineering leader, is a Type six personality,(the loyalist). He is committed, reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy, and security-oriented.  .  Though he is cautious and has problems with self-doubt, he’s quite methodical and also passionate about the value his work provides to our community. He evaluates how his projects will impact his children and future generations, and is focused on building the physical infrastructure required to promote a better future. These qualities make him an exceptional engineer. He’s an excellent “troubleshooter” and can foresee problems and foster cooperation, but Paul—often running on stress—can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious.

He focuses heavily on process and has insufficient levels of empathy to be an exceptional leader of people and projects. After taking the Enneagram assessment, he was able to identify his strengths and deficiencies. By understanding his authentic type (Enneagram Type six) and building on his strengths, he has improved his leadership ability. To augment his strengths, he also needed to build the capacities where he showed limitations—one of which is the capacity to show authentic empathy. He started by trying small experiments in leading with empathy that was appropriate for his work environment. He documented these experiments in a journal that allowed him to reflect on what was blocking his success as well as what was working well.

Over time he began to receive very positive feedback that these experiments were working, and his ability to be empathetic evolved into an authentic skill. While this may never be his strongest skill, he has made great progress in understanding what others need from him and developing the skills to relate more effectively. His success is attributed to both his willingness to learn about himself and also to take corrective action to address a gap in his skills and comfort level.

Part of the challenge in building authentic leadership is learning to leverage the clarity of your introspection. You can only be authentic if you understand who you truly are. Looking inside yourself and examining the makeup of your inner being enables you to function in a highly-grounded way, rather than operating from the innate biases of uninformed decision-making.

First and foremost start by simply considering your disposition, tendencies, inclinations, and ways of being. Authentic leadership hinges on understanding the simple, native manner in which you show up in your life. One way to observe this is by examining key aspects of your inner being, often called Leader Type, which reflect a leader’s personality type. The leader personality type is an essential foundation of your personal makeup, critically influencing who you are as a leader and greatly shaping the effectiveness of your leadership. The ancient adage “know thyself” holds true as a crucial underpinning in leadership performance.

When the sixty-five member Advisory Council for the Stanford Graduate School of Business was polled several years ago on the topic of what is most important to include in the school’s curriculum, there was an overwhelming, and quite impressive, agreement that the most important thing business school graduates needed to learn was self-awareness and the resulting ability to reduce denial in their perceptions of themselves and their actions. This speaks to the emerging deep recognition that we are highlighting in authentic leaders: Leaders who are unable to manage their authentic personality quirks and biases, can derail the most progressive initiatives toward an organization’s sustainable success. The real goal is to understand who you are at your core, build on your strengths, and  manage prejudice and idiosyncrasies.

Recommendations to improve your leadership authenticity using the focus on leader type:

  1. Take a personality type assessment;
  2. Learn about your type;
  3. Get input from others on what they think is most effective and least effective about your leadership style relative to your professional goals;
  4. Do a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) assessment to evaluate how your type maps to your work;
  5. Identify the strengths on which you can build, and the weaknesses and threats that may interfere with your success;
  6. Create a development plan that includes defining  daily practices to support development, including introspective routines;
  7. Seek assistance in accomplishing your plan and getting feedback from trusted others;
  8. Make the changes you defined in your plan.

Your ability to use deep introspection relies on your development of, and a capacity for, self-understanding and self-awareness. Both allow you profound openness of personal perspective as well as a greater understanding of others. These critical traits support leaders’ abilities to self-regulate, communicate effectively with others, and encourage personal learning. Employing a deeper understanding of Leader Type for both yourself and others is a powerful tool to promote effective leadership.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com h.koppdelaney