We did a pilot leadership workshop last week for newly minted leaders in a large business. I ran an Authentic Leadership session, in which we asked the question “Why should anyone be led by you?”
In answering the question we suggested that if Authenticity is knowing yourself and being it without fear or compromise in all situations and leadership is only possible if one has followers… Then we might define Authentic Leaderships as knowing yourself and being it without fear or compromise in all situations while enabling your followers to do the same thing, and pursue a common purpose you are all profoundly committed to.
Building on this – in discovering our authenticity there is then an implicit question “what do you need to know to know yourself?”
We looked at personal values and purpose and within that moved on to look at leadership stories. We asked the participants to articulate their own leadership story – a profound experience or decision in their lives that had influenced who they are and then to connect that to how they show up as leaders.
It is a big ask in a corporate setting to get people to work on something so personal, to their great credit they did and with great sincerity. Everyone had a little time to work on their story and then to connect it to their leadership. In groups of five or six they took it in turn to tell their stories and then offered each other feedback on how their personal story could be even better connected to their leadership.
The result was a remarkable selection of inspirational stories drawn mainly from life experiences that had shaped the people in the room. We asked the groups to select one story that would be recorded and shared on video from each group.
The following evening before dinner we shared the video stories. Without exception they were deep, moving, human stories which articulated very clearly how the individuals were driven by the experiences that had shaped them. The stories were deeply moving and by the end of the three day workshop many participants cited the stories as the most powerful part of the course.
As leaders it is vital not only that we know ourselves, but that those who might follow us know our story too. Telling our story is a simple way of helping to us and those around us make sense of our choices and our personality. Sure telling our story might make us feel vulnerable – but that very vulnerability builds relationships and trust.
When I met my wife and it became clear that our relationship was important, she decided that we should tell our whole life stories – from the beginning. We both did and that understanding of each other and the shared vulnerability formed an important part of the foundations for our relationship.
So here is the thought. Identify your own leadership story and connect to how you show up as a leader. Identify the people in your organisation who need to hear your story and whose story you would like to hear and create the opportunity for the stories to be shared.
For a few of the closest relationships in your life you may want to go deeper, and tell the whole story of who you are and how you came to be that way.
Have fun 🙂
Please share your stories and examples here.
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