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Authentic Leadership is Not Concerned with Status

10/15/2013 01:44 EDT | Updated 12/15/2013 05:12 EST

Are you interested in becoming a leader or increasing your status?

his question becomes very valid when understanding what is actually required to become a true leader. In Arianna Huffington's "On Becoming Fearless...In Love, Work, and Life" she distinguishes between "leadership solely as an external force," and:

Another kind -- internal leadership -- that does not depend on office or position or staff hierarchy or anything imposed or granted from without. This kind of leadership is generated instead by an inner force that compels us to try and make the surrounding world -- whether it's our family, our community, the entire nation, or beyond -- a better place.

I sought to find my inner force through Institute B's second Changemakers workshop on "Authentic Leadership". Institute B is a Vancouver-based startup accelerator that provides guidance, funding and education to local entrepreneurs and their nascent companies. Institute B focuses on helping socially-conscious companies and people whom do not sacrifice making the world better for profit.

The "Authentic Leadership" workshop taught critical steps to uncovering a specific leadership style. In no particular order, here are some tips for uncovering your own leadership.

3 Tips for Authentic Leadership


1. Listen to others


Stephen Covey famously remarked in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" that most people listen in order to respond, rather than to understand what is being said. It's very hard to lead other people when you, at best, have a partial view of who they are.

Institute B believes that when you are constantly working to shock and awe with your ability to respond -- then you are valuing your ability to "be right" at the risk of your own happiness. Listening to others is not just to make the speaker feel good -- it serves to advance your own understanding of yourself and the changes you are trying to make in the world.

2. Decide on your personal non-negotiables


"Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything" -- Alexander Hamilton

Institute B's workshop encouraged self-reflecting on words to decide which ideas are valued above all else. These values become a filter for making decisions in day-to-day life.

For example, I discovered that I value curiosity, inclusion and love above all else. I had to make a difficult decision about whether to invest time and resources into an educational stream. I realized that the various rules and restrictions placed on the students clashed with my value on inclusion. Once I realized this my decision became easy and I know that I saved myself future stress and lost resources.

3. Know your context


Arianna Huffington's definition of internal leadership includes the goal of making the world "a better place." Each individual leader is going to have their own definition of what "better" is -- but that ideal must be explicitly defined in order to set the right course.

Knowing the future state you are working toward -- coupled with the understanding of your non-negotiable values -- will set you on an unwavering course toward upholding morals and behaving in a way that will enhance the world. This is authentic leadership.

In a discussion about authentic leadership the topic of 'status' is not broached at all. Huffington writes that "when we are fearlessly who we are, we don't need external validation, just an opportunity to express ourselves, live fully, and serve the world."

If you live in Vancouver consider attending Institute B's next course in the Changemaker Accelerator workshop series, the Hopscotch Business Planning Process -- Execution ($50), on Thursday, October 24th.