>Inspiring Your Authentic Week

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Inspiring Your Authentic Week

Authentic Leadership

Posted: 11 Feb 2008 02:05 AM CST

If you consider that our world view evolves, leadership too must evolve. The kind of leadership that was appropriate in Roman times, ‘warrior emperor’, is very different from the kind of leadership that was appropriate in the industrial revolution, ‘patrician and controlling’.
The kind of leadership that was appropriate in the freebooting 1980’s and 1990’s, ‘creative and individualistic’ is very different from the kind of leadership that is appropriate to lead with the multi-layered commercial, social, spiritual and environmental challenges we face today.
What kind of leadership is appropriate today as we shift from post modern to whatever is next, from industrial to knowledge based business, from control to empowered?
What kind of leader is going to inspire today’s more self- actualised and caring staff for whom ethics and meaning are as important as the size of their pay packet?
Our traditional view of leadership is that leaders are appointed to a hierarchical position at the top of a pyramid, which is generally part of a series of interlocking pyramids that ascend to a rather blurry space at the top called “shareholders” or the “electorate”.
We seem to be addicted to the concept of hierarchy even in families, very often. In our society there appears to be an almost universal acceptance that hierarchy is the only valid social structure.
However hierarchy creates some fundamental challenges, in that while it works well in very focussed circumstances, crisis and disaster for example, it works less well in many other situations.
There are three fundamental challenges with hierarchy:
1: Leadership – inevitably where a fixed hierarchy is adhered to (e.g in a business, a country or a family) you do not get the most appropriate leader most of the time. We all have strengths and weaknesses and a single person cannot possibly be the best leader in every situation.
2: Workload – As we take responsibility for more people’s lives, either as employees or an electorate, we increase our workload. Pretty quickly the workload becomes so intense that we spend all of our time dealing with minutiae and have no time, energy or brain space for creativity, strategy or work/life balance.
3: Dependency – where people abdicate their own responsibility to another on a permanent or semi permanent basis. Dependency inevitably diminishes the identity of the individual by allowing them to limit their responsibility. We all blame politicians for failing to deal with the issue of the day (climate change, crime, terrorism, education, health and so on) rather than realising our responsibility and doing something about it.
If we are to have fully functional, optimised communities, in business, government or any other organisation the culture, structure and leadership must be designed to enable every member to contribute to the maximum.
The most inspiring and influential leaders are rarely appointed or elected, they emerge when their passion and their abilities coincide with an issue that creates enough energy (usually in the form of anger) to step up and make a difference. Mohandas Gandhi, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela (only later elected), Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Geldof for example.
There is a sweet spot where our passions and abilities coincide with an energising issue, if we can pursue this purpose and dedicate our lives to it we can achieve the most amazing things.
This is authentic leadership and is totally different from the hierarchical leadership that we are most familiar with. Authentic leaders emerge when their passion and abilities coincide with an opportunity for improvement. Authentic leaders are focussed on their purpose rather than their ego.
A non hierarchical community is not without leaders, it is full of leaders. Leadership flows dynamically around the community in the way that it flows around the football pitch during a match. Leadership vests transiently with an individual because of location, ability, knowledge and so on. When a significant issue faces a community the opportunity always exists for a leader supported by the community, as opposed to one supported by their boss, to emerge.
Authentic leaders are responsible to their community not to their boss. Authentic leaders guide their community without seeking to control it. For authentic leaders success lies in the empowerment of their community and of individuals within it, not in self aggrandisement.
Were are you going to step up and lead?
Where are the opportunities that you see for improvement in your work or in our society where you could step up and lead?
For help in clarifying your leadership opportunity and style come on the Authentic Transformation Advance

For help in finding you own leadership potential, come on the Total Potential Retreat.

with love


neil crofts  – coach, consultant, facilitator
Authentic Transformation – join the evolution
UK mobile 07775 658534
UK office 0845 6800648
Spain mobile (+34) 606 204 994 
Spain office (+34) 971 673 325
When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
  – CP Snow

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About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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