I was smiling at some biographical details which were provided for a presentation I was giving at a women’s conference where I was answering the question: How can I be an authentic leader and still retain my female self? The question suggests implicitly that authentic leadership leans more towards male characteristics than female.
Authentic leadership requires the best of all that we can bring to it including but not restricted to the following: our best intelligence, our best emotional intelligence, our best conversational intelligence, our best values, our best sense of self, and our best mission and passion.
None of the above characteristics are exclusively male or exclusively female!
For me, authentic leadership begins with the authenticity of the leader. We are best served by leaders who are clear about their mission and vision, and work hard to be the best they can be in the role. Imitations have never been high on my list of attractions… paper roses, plastic flowers on garden centre tables (!!), fake decorations that look glitzy and cheap. So my best advice to leaders everywhere is be your essential self, and then look at the talents you have that you can develop, the skills that you can learn, the knowledge that you can acquire and last but not least the people you need on your team to challenge you, complement you, and share the journey.
So whatever else you do today – be yourself!