Driving Great Results, Part 1

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Authentic Leadership —

Authentic leadership. What is it? 

I found it mentally exhausting to be a different type of person at work than I was at home or with friends.

For years, I had always believed it was necessary to maintain 2 different personas, 1 professional and 1 personal. But I knew there had to be a better way and set out to change myself. I read True North by Bill George. I participated in classes on leadership and emotional intelligence.  I sought feedback from friends, family, and colleagues about how I was perceived. From these efforts, I quickly realized that I could be a much more effective leader by leveraging my strengths, by drawing from life experiences, by leading others through storytelling, and most important, by just being me. I think I am a better leaders, and I am unquestionably much happier, as a result.

Authentic Leadership is leading while being true to yourself through self-awareness, demonstrating consistent values and ethics, and valuing your relationships. The intent of the authentic leadership checklist is to provide you with a tool to help focus your true inner self and remind you of your authenticity as a leaders.

Of the 19 tools in my book, this is the only tool dedicated to leadership. Successful entrepreneurs and manager achieve well above average results by ensuring that their teams are well managed and well led. The Authentic Leadership Checklist has served me well, and I hope you will use it as a springboard for your own development as a leader.

The Authentic Leadership Checklist is most useful when you have some knowledge of this style of leadership, and seek to remind yourself of some of the key attributes. The checklist cannot provide an in-depth education about self-awareness, values and ethics, or the strength of your relationships – no checklist can – but it serves as a reminder of what it means to lead authentically. 

Review the checklist frequently to keep yourself on track. Think of it as a quick glance in the mirror to confirm that the person looking back at you is who you want to see. I review this list at least one a month. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and helps me identify 1 area to focus on over the next 4 weeks. (Editor’s note: a QR code is in the book for you to scan to access the checklist, and you can also go to drivinggreatresults.com/resources.)

AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST

Date: _______________________________________
(Complete monthly for best results.)

SELF-AWARENESS
___ 1. Asked for feedback, actively listened, acted upon the result.

___ 2. Invested in personal competence development.

___ 3. Reflected on 3 personal strengths and weaknesses.

___ 4. Reflected on personal actions, what could be learned.

___ 5. Sought out 1 activity outside my comfort zone.

VALUES AND ETHICS
___ 6. Have a firm understanding of my personal ethics (keep list).

___ 7. Communicated building ethics and values to 5 people.

___ 8. Frequently used ethics and values as basis for decision making.

___ 9. Shared a teachable point of view with 2 people.

___ 10. Followed through on commitments.

MOTIVATION
___ 11. Reflected on what motivates me.

___ 12. Reflected on personal motivations vs. motivations of others.

___ 13. Actively worked to turn around negative conversations.

___ 14. Actively worked to balance work and home life.

___ 15. Took control of managing my energy.

RELATIONSHIPS
___ 16. Actively listened to the ideas of others.

___ 17. Consistent in actions and behavior.

___ 18. Spent 1:1 time with 5 people to learn more about them.

___ 19. Treated each person and conversation as though they matter.

___ 20. Grew my personal support network by 1 person.

GOAL FOR NEXT MONTH:
By the end of ______________________ (Month/Year), I will focus on the authentic leadership area of (circle 1) self-awareness, values and ethics, motivation, or relationships.

SUMMARY

  • Know yourself. What is important to you, what motivate you, and what are your personal ethics? Use these as guiding principles.
  • Personal growth comes quickly when you listen to the ideas of others. The foundation of authentic leadership is self-awareness and listening.
  • Continuously invest in yourself and follow your curiosity. The path to authentic leadership is a lifelong journey.

REFLECTION QUESTION

Consider when you last sought and received constructive feedback. How did you seek this feedback? (In person is best. Keep the question specific and focused on examples, and avoid the generic “How am I doing?” question.) What did you take away from this feedback, and how did you change your leadership style or behavior as a result?

About the Author: Luke Sheppard is the principal of Sheppard & Company, a consultancy he founded to help entrepreneurs and managers drive results through simplicity. Prior to starting his own business, Luke spent 20 years with John Deere, in engineering, operations, general management, and executive leadership roles in the US and Canada. Luke holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s degree in Systems Engineering from Iowa State University, and an Executive MBA from the University of Iowa. Luke lives with his wife and 2 children in Ottawa, Ontario, where they enjoy running, cycling, and spending time together in the great outdoors. For more information, visit www.drivinggreatresults.com. Connect with Luke on LinkedIn (ljsheppar) and Facebook (@ljsheppar).

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