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In their groundbreaking studies about effective leadership, award-winning writers Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner found that “overall, it [honesty] emerges as the single most important ingredient in the leader-follower relationship.”

If a leader’s communication and behavior are not authentic expressions, people will feel like they’ve been duped.

However, honesty is more than a strategy or blurting out a harsh statement. That’s bluster or bravado with no heart. The courage to be honest and authentic is all about heart. The word courage is derived from the Latin word “cour” for heart.

When you are at your best, you can have a great impact on those you serve as a leader, as well as on your business results. So what entails being at your best? You’re at your best when you are living and leading with your natural gifts, talents, strengths and how you naturally behave and think about the world.

The courage actually begins here. It’s takes courage to REALLY get to know yourself. It requires humility and the willingness to be vulnerable.

You may have heard the advice to just be who you are, “don’t worry what others think.” This is solid advice at any age, especially for those entrusted to lead others and that’s a scary proposition if you’ve always tried to be who you think you should be or need to be to get ahead, even if that isn’t who you really are.

If you took my challenge in last week’s blog post about authenticity, you unearthed a gem of self-awareness. Now I’m asking you to find the courage to polish your findings so that others can benefit from knowing the real you. Please go through these questions and be as specific and detailed as possible.

  1. How do elements of the real you show up in your life?
  2. What role did these have in your life’s greatest success?
  3. What role did these have in your life’s most fulfilling experience?

Congratulations, I can see right through the computer screen that you are starting to shine. Are you ready to summon the courage to take these next baby steps?

  1. Start to notice how this part of you shows up each day as you lead.
  2. Choose to NOT do something (or do it differently) based on who you naturally are.
  3. Share what you’ve learned about yourself with some close colleagues and friends.
Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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