Authentic Leader/ Inauthentic Leader: Which Are You?

We all know that authentic leadership is important and relevant, but as Christ-centered leaders we must not forget that our source of identity starts and ends with Word of God. Once we were enslaved by the shackles of sin, but now we are born again in Christ. Now, to be authentic, we must strive to take off our former habits, thoughts, and wounds and replace them with the new identity in Christ. Ephesians 4:15 captures what authenticity means for Jesus followers.

“Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth (in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly). Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, Christ.” (Amplified Bible)

In essence, authenticity is where our external actions align with internal beliefs. It’s the congruency between who you are and who you appear to be. Think about this. Are you the same person in home and outside of home?

Authenticity however cannot be forced. Rather it must be lived out. In Robert McKenna’s “DYING TO LEAD,” he shares three ironies of authenticity:

– The more you want to be seen as genuine, the less genuine you become.
– The more you tell people that you’re a good person, the less they’ll believe you.
– If you want to know how humble I am, just ask me.
Case in point: Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow. These two men don’t publicly announce how authenticity or humility were their core values. Rather, their example and actions simply exuded authenticity and humility.
This insight challenged me because I always sought to espouse core values explicitly. It didn’t take me long to figure out when I shared how I considered humility as a core value, it felt rather awkward to say such a thing. Surely, would truly a humble person even make such statement? Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Lesson learned.

I really like how Bill George, Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author, defines authentic leaders:

Authentic leaders genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership. They are interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference, more than they are interested in power, money, or prestige for themselves. They lead with purpose, meaning, and values. And their people relationships are extremely strong. They use their natural abilities, but they also recognize their shortcomings and work hard to overcome them. Others follow them because they know where they stand. When their principles are tested, they refuse to compromise, Dedicated to developing themselves, authentic leaders focus on a lifetime of personal growth.

I don’t know whether or not George subscribes to Christianity, but you cannot help but think there is something scriptural in his description of authentic leaders.

Compare George’s definition how the Bible describes key attributes of an authentic leader.

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  – 1 Peter 5:2-6:

We learned several key attributes of being a godly, authentic leader.

  • Shepherds (those who nurture, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is (your responsibility)
  • Christian models (not domineering, arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing)
  • Respectful of all people
  • Clothed with humility
  • Submitted to God.

Above all, my biggest takeaway learning about authentic leadership at CLA is this.

Before I rise to any challenge of leadership task whether big or small, first and foremost I must nourish, guard, and nurture my soul. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt 16:26) When my heart is at the right place, I can truly become authentic as a leader.

Question: What steps are you taking to become a more authentic leader?