The title of the essay is a great question to ask yourself; it certainly is for me. Am I being the Authentic Leader I desire to be? Can I do a better job making sure my actions match my words? The short answer is absolutely. As you begin the new year, ask yourself the questions below and remember to be the change you want to see in others. -Brad
Why Would Anyone Follow You?
By Steve Keating
People are pretty interesting to study. So many people from so many places, so many different cultures, backgrounds, and histories. So many differences.
But even in a world of differences there are some things that most everyone has in common, and one of those commonalities is that the majority of people hold others to a higher standard than they hold themselves. It’s just far easier to speak your principles than it is to live them. And that's likely a key reason why most people are not Authentic Leaders. Authentic Leaders, the type that we would all follow, hold themselves to a higher standard than they hold others.
Most people have high expectations for themselves but Authentic Leaders do not merely have high expectations, they have high standards too. We may expect much of ourselves but we too often also provide ourselves with many excuses that Authentic Leaders simply don't need. Authentic Leaders don't make excuses, they make commitments to excellence.
Authentic Leaders are led by their core values and one of those core values is almost always to make certain that their actions match their words. They do what they say they will when they say they will do it. That makes them very easy to trust.
Authentic Leaders know that people tend to "follow up", that is they follow people they respect and trust or they follow someone they believe sets an example of the type of person they would like to become.
People seldom "follow down", they don't follow people that they would not want to be like or people that they cannot trust or respect. When someone with a leadership title or in a position of leadership holds themselves to lower standards than they hold others they lose the trust of their people and they lose the ability to truly lead.
Here’s a few important questions for you: Why would anyone follow you? Do you expect more from others than you expect from yourself? Do you hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself? Do you allow yourself excuses that you would not allow others? Are the majority of your mistakes "excusable" but not the mistakes of others?
In order to properly answer those questions you must be completely honest with yourself because if you can’t be honest with yourself you most certainly won’t be honest with anyone else.
Excellent, experienced, Authentic Leaders pause from time to time to ask themselves those very questions. They will also ask their mentors and accountability partners. If they don't like the answers, they take immediate steps to change them.