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Why be an Authentic Leader?

Jun 7, 2016

As a leader in my Not for profit it took me a long time to realise the power of my own authenticity – and authentic leadership.

It took me years to understand what it was about my organisation that made it genuinely different to others. I use to think it was its size, its niched target group or its programs. Whilst these things all contributed to its uniqueness, they were the ‘how it is different?’ not the “why it is different”.

Eventually I came to realise and learn that the real difference was in its authenticity. And that the authenticity came from being an authentic leader.

Authentic leaders attract those who are aligned with and aspire to their lived values.

For me, being an authentic leader and authentic leadership comes down to three core criteria:

  • Standing in my truth and being true to my core beliefs – my “why”
  • Being real and honest – being unapologetically me; dropping my ego, dropping trying to fit in and go with the crowd – and just be genuine
  • The way I behaved, the actions I take and decisions I make are congruent with my truth  –  my core beliefs, my purpose and my ‘why’ – AND are grounded in an ethical framework of justice, fairness and wisdom.

I have learnt that people want to see REAL. They want to feel you, relate to you, and know who you are. They want to connect with you and be inspired by you.

When you lead from a place of authenticity there is no pretending to be someone that you are not. You don’t follow the crowd for fear of ‘whatever’, you are comfortable with taking the road less travelled, or creating your own path.

And while you don’t take the ‘easy’ way, things seem to come to the authentic leader with ease.

Why is this?

I believe it is because you have shown who you are and what you stand for. When you show people who you are they can choose to be or not be with you. It’s a great filter. It will result in attracting the right people to your team, more compatable clients, and business partners with greater synergy.

Authentic leaders attract to them those people, situations and opportunities that are aligned with their truth. The really good authentic NFP leader is not only aligned with their truth, but their whole organisation is aligned with the same set of values, beliefs and purpose. It is evident in what the organisation does, what it does NOT do, and how it does it.

Being an authentic leader starts with knowing your ‘why’, being clear about your beliefs and sharing this with your organisation.  It can’t just be lip service, its not something you “tell” people about. As a leader it has to be demonstrated, exampled, and backed up with congruent behaviour and actions.

Your business decisions become grounded in this set of  values and beliefs.

So if you are in a NFP and feel deeply passionate about your cause and the difference you want to make to your community, then start by being an authentic leader. Get clear on your why, your values and beliefs, show up, and be seen. Do it firstly for yourself. Because when you are true to yourself, the rest will flow.

When you are authentic it gives you greater personal clarity; it gives your team clarity on direction, boundaries, and expectations. Your client group know what to expect from you, and in fact, were drawn to you because of the authenticity your organisation demonstrates.

Being an authentic leader creates a values driven organisation, where people, process and purpose are fully aligned and the business is in flow.

Being in flow equals ease, joy, growth, and positive change. And as NFP leaders we are, above all else, trying to influence positive change in our communities.

Are you wondering how “in flow”, congruent and authentic you are in your leadership? Map your authenticity with this “Authenticity Leadership Profile Tool” 


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