This weekend I had the rare and wonderful opportunity of being with family. In the past, these gatherings created a lot of stress as I tried to navigate the different expectations for each of my roles. So far being a grandma has produced nothing but joy. Sometimes, though, I’m not sure how to be a mom of grown kids with families of their own. It can also feel awkward being a grown daughter of a woman with a strong and confident personality. However, this time our get together felt comfortable. Perhaps it’s one of the perks of getting older. Even though I was mom, mother-in-law, grandma, daughter, sister, and auntie, all at the same time, I felt no performance anxiety. It was freeing to simply be myself, comfortable in my own skin.
The same applies to us as leaders. It is freeing when we are comfortable in our own skin. It should be our goal to lead with authenticity. We must be consistent and known for integrity. Followers trust a genuine leader who is open with them rather than hides behind a title or mask. Director, manager, pastor, coach, parent, spouse, instructor—our hats may change; our face must remain steadfast.
Here are three principles I follow, as I seek to thrive as an authentic leader.
Know yourself. God has created you with a distinctive combination of personality, strengths, spiritual gifts, physical attributes, and preferred ways of connecting with Him. Have you identified these special characteristics? There are many reputable assessments that can assist in the discovery process. Practice self-awareness. As you know yourself better, you can learn to accept yourself, and then delight in how God fashioned you inside and out.
Be yourself. This is really at the heart of authentic leadership. Do not act one way in public and another way in private. Your approach may change depending on the setting, but don’t become a different person. Be the same person with the same ethics whether you are with a major stakeholder, staff member, or family member. Be transparent with your mistakes and weaknesses, as well as your successes and strengths.
Commit to improve yourself. Partner with God to be the best you that you can be. You will never achieve perfection, but you should always be growing. How do your motivations and actions measure with the standards in God’s Word? Be teachable, willing to hear and learn from God and others. The Holy Spirit will empower you in the process of becoming more like Jesus as a servant leader.
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person” (Proverbs 27:19 NLT).
Lord, help me to be an authentic leader. May I rejoice in who you have designed me to be. May my heart reflect Jesus Christ, and may my actions flow as a blessing to those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.