Being authentic requires leaders to allow the personnel who report to them and follow their lead to grasp how they think and feel and understand their values and character. Since each person is different, there’s no magic formula to be a great leader; it requires recognizing your own traits and skills and demonstrating them to the group in an unvarnished, truthful fashion.
The book follows fundamental axioms about leadership—situational, nonhierarchical, and relational. Within this framework, there are numerous examples of how leaders exhibit their authenticity. The authors illustrate the various ways that leaders reveal themselves to be authentic—or not—and demonstrate the leadership skills that they’ve used in their respective situations.
A key ingredient to becoming an authentic leader is to have a good, strong sense of self and understanding what events have occurred in your life that have shaped your behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, goals, and ethics. Introspection and inquiring about other people’s opinions about you could help to further this self-discovery process and identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
Many of the skills required to be a leader are addressed, including observation, communication, passion, and a knack for understanding one’s own role and delegating responsibilities that match team members’ strengths. Note that these aren’t structural attributes but rather require a sensitivity to each particular situation and come from a willingness to change one’s personal behavior and outlook. The authors are clear that simply having seniority and exerting authority aren’t leadership, but rather self-development is the path to improvement as a leader.
This book is a great overview of what good leadership looks like in a business setting, and it’s a good read for anyone who wants to be a better person. It does a nice job of helping you assess yourself, your leadership skills, and how you interact with other people. An appendix lists great questions to ask yourself that will provoke a productive review of your leadership skills. If you aspire to be a better leader, then this book is a useful primer for becoming your authentic best.