images-Authentic LeadershipWe can learn a great deal from authentic leaders. My favourite ones can be seen in the picture. They are household names and much has been written about them.

You are likely to see some of the following qualities in authentic leaders:

Their circle of influence is much wider than their immediate position in the organisation. In fact, an authentic leader may have a number of circles of influence. The ripples from these are felt strongly in and beyond their immediate environment. These leaders are excellent at declaring their manifesto or stating their dream which they work tirelessly to bring to reality.

M K Gandhi was about pursuit and practice of truth. He believed in “truth in thought, truth in speech, and truth in action.” His Satyagraha movement energised thousands of people in India which helped to achieve independence from Britain.

In 1963, Martin Luther King had a dream in which he called powerfully the end of racism in the US. It secured progress on civil rights in the US including legislation for equality for black Americans and other minority groups.

Nelson Mandela fought for equality for all races in the struggle for independence for South Africa and in ending Apartheid. With consultation from many groups who were committed to achieve independence for South Africa, Nelson Mandala and his party, ANC, declared in their Freedom Charter that, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justify to claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.” Nelson Mandela was instrumental in achieving free elections in South Africa without violence when the country became independent in 1994.

The Dalai Lama’s talks and teaching has not only influenced Buddhists around the world but encouraged people from other faiths to think deeply about kindness, love happiness, suffering and a variety of other topics. For example, he has said that “ Love and compassion are necessities. Without that, humanity cannot survive.” And
“My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.”

The observer becomes the observed. An authentic leader has this ability, at least part of the time. To me, what it means is that when leaders dream or declaration their vision, there is no distinction between the leader and the leadership, including leadership power. For example, M K Gandhi’s powerful message was condensed in his message “be the change you want to see in the world” and he practiced this in the struggle for independence for India and in awakening Indians to be ready for independence. Nelson Mandela said that, “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” Martin Luther King said that, “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

Self-interest is non-existent or ranks much lower in relation to personal needs. Authentic leaders have a sense of abundance in them. For example, Gandhi didn’t want a leadership role in independent India. He lived a simple life. His material needs were minimal. The Dalai Lama may be enlightened and may appear an icon for Buddhism and Buddhist way of life. However, he is a simple person leading a simple life.

Other examples of authentic leaders include Einstein, Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Carl Jung, Steve Jobs, Socrates and Mother Theresa.

Are you an authentic leader? How strong are your ripples of influence?