What is Authentic Leadership

Leading a conscious company is about being aware and awake to your surroundings, your dialogue with others, and, critically, your dialogue with yourself. This awareness includes everything from the dynamics of your marketplace to how you are feeling, and authentic leadership hinges on your decision to be open about what you really want first from the heart. But what is authentic leadership?

Heart-Centered Vision


When leaders focus all their decisions on the tangible and think logically every step of the way, and make decisions from the head, they often stifle their creativity. On the other hand, you tend to be more open, creative, and calmer when you start with the heart. 

Leaders are often concerned that they are less thorough when they make decisions from the heart, but when you really dive into it, the choices you make when you’re thinking quickly and going on instinct can often be the ones that work best for the team. Heart-centered decisions are holistic too — one of my fantastic podcast guests, Tom Carmazzi, described it as the four sticks process, moving from left to right from; 

Leader — Team — Processes — Results

This method kicks off the decision-making process with the people model rather than the business model. And in the people model of decision making, we move from; 

Heart — Head — Hands

As an authentic leader, when you get the people model right, you will crush any business model. When you focus more on the people, your decision-making is much more sustainable at an elite level. 


Conscious Accountable Leaders 


Let’s dig deeper into Tom’s four sticks philosophy… The first stick represents leadership, the conscious, accountable business leader we aspire to be. Leaders should be alive, and when we say that we’re not just talking about energy, we’re referring to the entire continuum, sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, tender, because when we come alive, the world comes along with us. We also need to trust that the leader has a working inner compass, which is the vision and mission statement of an organization. 

As humans, we’re built to be in relationships, and there is a chemical in our body called oxytocin that is released when we’re in a relationship. So if you think about these four sticks, and the way we talk about these is that as the leader climbs, they invite the team to climb. 

The team is the second stick, and as the team climbs, then our processes and structures get more sound, they get more firm and stable, and that’s the third stick. Then the fourth stick is the results. Basically, we move from left to right, or from leader to the results. 

As a leader climbs, a team climbs, as teams climb, the structures climb, and as the structures climb, then we get sustainable results. 

Moving Forward in Authentic Leadership


Authentic leaders keep everybody moving forward and get the team focused on adding value and getting folks aligned on a very consistent theme. Regular readers of the blog know that I like to break authenticity down into honesty, integrity, and vulnerability. For business folks, honesty should go without saying, but when you bundle it in with the notion of integrity, it adds another layer. 

Integrity is all about aligning your thoughts, beliefs, words and actions — you do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it at the speed you say you are going to do it. If you’re going to deviate from the course that you’ve set, how quickly do you let folks know, ask for help and get back online? You need to be honest with yourself as a leader. 

Leaders, in general, have a tendency when they haven’t hit the point of understanding the value of vulnerability, to want ultimate control. There can be a bit of a hero complex that creeps in because they feel they should have all the answers. They want to be the hero, but they don’t realize that their job is actually to help facilitate the solution, and vulnerability is one of those ways. 

Being a conscious authentic leader relies on openness, honesty, and more than a little intuition. Leading from the heart allows you to focus your efforts on a people-centered decision-making model for business success. 

To learn more about the importance of authenticity in leadership and what is authentic leadership, you can continue to enjoy our blog posts, or you can head over to the podcast The Athletics of Business where I discuss all aspects of leadership with a variety of insightful guests. 


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