Authentic Leadership – What’s In It For You

Thank you to the nearly 300 people who responded to my survey about authentic leadership.  Your great input fuels today’s column.

So, why focus on “authentic” leadership? Why not start-up leadership, courageous leadership, improvisational, trustworthy, heroic, servant or — well, pick your favorite adjective . . . dancing leadership, defiant, athletic, flourishing…Why authentic?

Two reasons.  First, it’s about growth. We can all work to be more or less “authentic.”  As a young man, I (unconsciously) hid behind titles, social expectations, and I navigated politics. One of the (potential) gifts of age is you can get real, authentic.  But, maybe if we look at what it is, we can figure out how to reveal more of it . . . now.

And the big reason I’m writing about it is that, as my survey indicates, authentic leadership generates dramatic benefits. So, “authentic leadership” should attract your attention if you want these four outcomes in your leadership (as indicated by my recent survey):

  • 66% of survey respondents said the impact they saw from the most authentic leader they worked with was an increase in trust, respect, loyalty;
  • 55% used words that said their authentic leader was inspiring, motivating and that they evoked passion and hard work from those who followed them;
  • 44% of the comments spoke to how the authentic leaders generated a positive environment for work and one that was inclusive,
  • 39% said the authentic leader generated team unity and fostered collaboration*

Those are really nice calling cards, aren’t they?  Who wouldn’t want to generate more of that from their teams?

So, at the threshold (more next week), you might ask three questions: (1) When have I been most authentic? (2) What would it take for me to be as authentic as I was then? and perhaps wonder: (3) What keeps me from being me — most true to who I am and what I believe in as a leader?

Surveys are cool, but what I loved about this one is that I invited others to speak – in their own words – about their most authentic leader.  I’ve printed below their verbatim comments, so that they may inspire you, as they inspire me to

Lead with your best self.

Many thanks to my student Jason Tang for wading through boatloads of individual comments to bring you these findings!

She became a role model for others
He was able to evoke passion in others with his own passion and dedication.
Positive movement forward, momentum, teaming, unity.
Soldiers intuitively trusted him.  They followed him for his understated charisma.  They were genuinely proud to be a part of the organization.  They went the extra mile to get a job done.
The result was trust. You knew Keith had your best interests at heart, would listen and consider what you had to say. Org culture and behavior is modeled from the top, and the org followed suit for the most part.
The dedication and respect of entire team; camaraderie within the team; instilling within me the desire to do my best.
It made me a willing follower and contributor.
She was easy to follow
Everyone try their hardest to excel and reach the RIGHT conclusion.
People wanted to perform at their best to please her because they liked and respected her not because they were afraid of her.
People worked harder because they saw how hard she worked.
The work was always completed timely and well.
He served as a model for my own teaching practices.
It lead to incredible growth and confidence in myself – and had served me well throughout my career. It make me feel like an equal when I presented the solutions – and agreed or indicated it was better than he might have thought of. He built trust and loyalty. And it is a method/tactic that I still use today with my direct reports, most of whom say they greatly appreciate the growth and opportunities it affords.
she is inspiring & calming
Kathryn’s organized and driven nature means she accomplishes the tasks she sets out to do. This generates positive effects because she is leading by example and motivating you by being in the trenches with you.

Her honesty means that you know what she expects from you, and how she thinks you actually did. This results in an atmosphere of no games and no surprises.

Her caring for others resulted in personal loyalty.

People know him to be a reliable source of wisdom and guidance in personal and professional issues. He is also known as an extremely dependable, consistent, hard worker, as he establishes a culture of selflessness and leading by example.
Trust and confidence in his leadership.  And I felt respected and valued.
He was soft-spoken, but firm.  Fair, but uncompromising. He gave us the material, encouraged us as much as possible, then allowed us to take from it what we would. If we had questions or wanted further information, he was happy to oblige.
People who knew Tom were always inspired to work harder, to learn, to grow.
People working together across party lines. Constructive legislation.
You want to do good for him.
We grew.  As people and as employees.  He exposed us to the things and thought leaders he had an interest in, and it helped us to develop as well.  Whatever access he had, he shared, while retaining (and teaching) the importance of humility, regardless of title.  He…”Beheld us.”  He encouraged us to dream less and do more and showed us how to negotiate priorities in our lives to accomplish actual deeds that seemed to be only wants.  He provided time for us to write objectives, monitored them with us, allowed us to pick his brain and offered his advice.  He really cared.
I sought to incorporate them in myself
You are bound to grow, develop wonderful patterns of behavior and professionalism, feel secure amidst up and down aspects of your confidence and always believe in striving to be better, do better and want better.
Employees were more confident in their jobs and wanted to please him and do good for him. They knew he believed in them and they didn’t want to let him down. His trust in his employees was unmatched in anyone I’ve ever worked for or with.
Everyone knew where they stood; no confusion about what he thought of you or how he appreciated you; his passion was infectious; his style of working informed the way we worked with our own teams and clients.
They were passionate. They brought people together in organized and informal ways. They wanted to mentor young people. They were very supportive of youth leadership. They were open to walking through an idea and changing their mind if the strategy was not ideal. Most importantly, they always had clarity around what their values are and what the end goal should be.
Lifelong commitments to civic engagement and others involved in the work.
Because of is honest and open communication with me, we have developed a very trusting relationship.
a new yearning to learn new and different ways of thinking and doing
Everyone seemed very clear as to what they were suppose to be focusing on.
I felt accepted and affirmed. He never judged. He was very in touch with human frailty.
Instilled loyalty and a high functioning organization because of his servant leadership.
More collaboration among various NGOS with differing missions; more positive changes in state policies based on respect based relationships with other leaders and colleagues.
I was more productive and wasn’t afraid to take risks.  I knew he would support my efforts.
Uniformity, cohesiveness, no question as to who is the leader.
Loyalty, even when you disagreed. Willingness to take risks because he did.
I would follow her into another difficult project in a heartbeat.  Things got accomplished.  I was required to give above and beyond, occasionally for months at a time, but since I felt appreciated, I felt respected, I knew I wasn’t going to be thrown under the bus, and I knew that the task would be successfully completed, I was happy to do so.
Visionary leadership.  Commitment of the team to shared and understood vision and mission.  Cohesiveness.  Confidence that contradictory recommendations or views could be voiced, heard and discussed.
loyalty; teamwork; respect; action. people worked hard for him but had fun in the process.
Taught me much of what I know about leadership
She nurtured and grew new leaders…some were her supervisors, some her peers, some her subordinates.
doing what he said he was going to do
Brought real issues to the forefront. Kept the organization focused on the right things. Made room for others to excel and be visible.
Because everyone’s ideas and feelings were respected, I saw large groups of diverse people feel very free to share those thoughts and feelings, knowing they were “safe” in doing so. It led to better decisions being made and work getting done more quickly because everyone was on board or had at least felt heard.
moved organization forward
I think the word authentic is inauthentic.  Like the word “deep” used to mean something profound and serious, it is redundant if a leader is a leader.  We wouldn’t use the phrase “authentic mother or authentic father” anymore than we should use the phrase “authentic leader.”  As Gertrude Stein might say in this day and age of misusing language, a leader is a leader is a leader.
People will go out of their way above and beyond to help him in whatever he asked.  Less turn over, no politicking, and you always knew where you stood (no assumptions)
She engages people to work toward shared goals. Able to keep the team focused and balanced.
People follow someone who they think is being on the level with them.  His personal story led others to believe that they could achieve too.  He moved people into service.
Changes that howled everyone has/had value to add to the organization.
The whole band empowered and encouraged to do their best and we all felt good about our efforts – individually and collectively.
Encouragement to others to follow and pursue their dreams.
The biggest is the work ethic of all of my siblings-my grandfather lived with us.
Learning took place in their classes.  I was also able to grow in my mastery of the subject area they taught.
Real, tangible change in the organization, sense of safety within his team, lots of creativity, laughter and deep personal regard
loyalty, affection for the organization
He always led by example and we and others knew his way was not only useful and effective, but usually fun as well.  Even when it was hard work or tedious.  There was always a way to make it fun.

It was thus always memorable, and everyone always wanted to know what was next, and we all wanted to work with him and follow his lead.

boldness, honesty and integrity
His goals were clear and simple, so I never had to guess.  The way he treated me, I wanted him to be proud of me.  He was so personable, the way he would tell me stories about his rookie year or his life.  The way he intearcted with people, his manner was simple, direct and honest and I would have done anything he would have asked.
She had a lot of support from her employees and from management. The resulting impact was a very collaborative and teamwork centered department. We wanted to support each other and achieve results together and not against each other.
authentic way of leading lead to organizing and more honest expression among employees to be more involved in county committees outside of the department to affect county level policy
We feel empowered and motivated.
It produced loyalty and respect from me.  I felt at ease with her knowing that she would support me even if I made a mistake.  I enjoyed her feedback as I felt it was there to help me and not as a form to criticize me or to make me feel bad.
You can’t help but get on board- her energy draws everyone in
People he led knew that he was being honest, so they believed him and were more likely to mirror his honesty in their dealings with colleagues and others
Brings out best in others, inspires, encourages others to take risks, to aim high.
Personal growth. More enjoyable workplace.
Trust by high performers
very tangible change in the lives of the patients’ the clinic serves. patients were connected with programs/resources such as food stamps, housing and transportation

much of this is thanks to Dr. Rhadakrishna

He respected the people he worked with, praised their efforts, and often asked for advice.
I could always be honest and forthright, I never had to refrain from telling the truth regardless of how good or bad the news was.
Inspires others to follow his example, shows that “it” can be done, makes others feel valued and loved
Her style of leadership made me feel excited about work, empowered to bring more to the table and engage in more of a leadership role myself. Her positive style of leadership really energized me and led me to want to take on a larger role at work.
Work became more enjoyable with a purpose.
Lead by example
High trust within the organization. Quickly moving past an ugly time of corporate malfeasance. Selection of a highly-qualified successor. Strengthening of the management team.
Great loyalty from his staff, and willingness to give total effort and live up to his example. Great loyalty to each other, built a strong team.
very easy to be transparent in return.
I saw the positive impact he had on his people and community as he held their highest trust in him.
It was easy to look at this person as a mentor, it was early in my management career and I appreciated her as an example that I could aspire to. She also let me get to know what was important in her own life and we found that we had a need for work/life balance in common. This was a relief because it so rarely exists in my field. Essentially, she let me do my job and stayed out of the way unless I needed her, or she needed to give me direction. I never felt micro-managed, but knew that she was there if I needed anything.
His staff love him, he loves his staff. His staff will go above and beyond for him.
Trust and respect
more confidence in myself
He was polite and articulate. Very much a gentleman. So others emulated him. He set an excellent example for how to allow many opinions be heard and not have too muc discord. He showed that viewpoints were honored and stimulating, yet not necessarily divisive.
Clarity of direction to the entire team inside and outside, improved respect in the industry, higher alignment of the team
Encouragement and support for those she leads.
Created positive energy and motivated me to work to achieve both my own goals and the company goals.
De’s employees, full-time or student, felt valued. She fostered a team atmosphere in her unit. Her unit was one that other employees wanted to join if an opening became available. Now that I am a unit supervisor I try to model my behavior on De. I’d like to be able to say that my unit is a team that other employees want to become part of just like De’s unit.
I felt safe, happy, and wanted to do a great job to make them happy.
group buy-in to direction, particularly improvements
He was so loyal and vested in us.  It had such an impact on me how empowering it is to have a leader you knew would stand behind you no matter what.  He wanted to see us stand on our own 2 feet and always said “if you can give me a solid reason why you did what you did I will have your back even if what you did was the wrong decision”.
   He was well-liked, despite disagreements about his actions at times.  He was respected and seen as a person who believed in what he did.
The team wants to work for this leader, they give 100% continually and are recognized for their great effort.  The success of this team has been modeled within our organization on how other teams have been created and structured.
Motivation for me to do well.  Inspired to try new things.  A model for me to be authentic without my personality or ego at the forefront.  We get a lot done efficiently and smoothly and enjoyably.
Under his leadership the organization advanced tremendously.
Trust, loyalty, commitment to do a great job
People knew where they stood and felt comfortable extending themselves to do their best job.
When she spoke, people believed what she said.  She was respected on our campus and looked to for answers.
Around her everything calmed down and we could return to our frontal cortex rather than reacting from our fear based amygdala. We could finally reason.
People respected him even if they didn’t like him

You always got an honest, non-political opinion

Leading by example
Compassionate attitude towards all but hard task master
Pro active way of easing citizen lives
Citizen centric.
He modeled what he expected from us.  He woke early, and worked hard.  Unless it was Sunday, then he just woke early and we went to church.
She created other leaders like her.  We could talk to her about anything, she allowed us to vent and sometimes she would say to move on and come back to it.
He made me feel as though I was important, that I had value to add to the organization and gave me confidence to do things I may not have otherwise done.
He was able to implement the Community Ventures program, which is an initiative of Imclusive Economic Development that has successful provided meaningful employment for over 3000 of the most challenged.

Our IEDC Research Partners recently issued a paper that included this initiative along with several others to provide promising practices for inclusive economic development.

I knew I could always approach him with a work related issue.  I knew he would give me his best guidance that was consistent with other staff.
He listened when we disagreed and sometimes changed the directives based on our conversations – he was open to learn more when appropriate.
You clearly knew where you stood and how your performance was compared to expectations.  If you can accept critiques (many times with positive intent but not always) you have feedback that can be vital in improving your overall performance.
Current and relevant product that accomplishes the goals and mission of the organization.  An involved and committed workforce and volunteer community.  Engagement by the customers/consumers.
He made leading an organization seem positive and effective.  It didn’t seem hierarchical, it felt inclusive.  It didn’t seem confusing, it felt clear and compelling.  It didn’t seem intrusive, it made me feel as if I could use my own talents and skills and contribute as I saw fit.
Pat listened to staff in varying roles and processed the information about a work topic .  I would say her communication with the staff about work topics was honest and direct.  She never made you feel less of a person. There was a deep sense of trust. You could share information and know it would never go anywhere.  Pat was a very good small group leader and even better one on one.
We all became more confident in our abilities and more importantly we respected him, not froma a fear perspective but from a “soldier to soldier” perspective because of his knowledge and his ability to mentor us in his own way.
Their actions demonstrated their goals and expectations.  They treated everyone with respect, regardless of their position in the organization.  The golden rule was treat everyone as you would like to be treated and they passed out golden rulers for reminders to everyone.
Straight forward and trustworthy
I trusted their word.
Their trust, listening, and belief in you
Work was enjoyable, and extra effort was rewarded. I felt respected as a professional.
This supervisor set the standards high.  People were inspired to do better.
Her team is fully aware of what is going on in the agency
A willingness to commit, to takes risks, to give 110%,  develop open and honest dialogue, always knew where we were and where we were going
Sincere acceptance of reality, while supporting your willingness to challenge status-quo
Steer you when you least expected it or thought you needed it and
People willingly and enthusiastically would follow him
Groups work better because of the method of building them; more diversity of thought.
I was motivated to do my best and had someone to talk with about challenges
Subordinates were able to do their work without being micromanaged, but nonetheless with the benefits of supervision.  We did not spend a lot of time diverted by infighting or other negative effects of poor leadership.
She was a trusted advisor, well respected by colleagues at all levels of the organization.  Her advise was sought after when tough decisions needed to be made.  I felt supported and appreciated for the work being accomplished.
People believe, buy in to the concept being delivered.
People with go the extra mile to help the organization succeed.
He was highly respected and trusted
high morale, creativity, autonomy, and professional respect for what we are doing.
The people Jeff leads will do whatever is necessary to support him without needing exhortation or coercion.  We know what Jeff asks us to do is fundamentally, technically and morally correct.
Trust, willingness from staff to bring good and bad news forward immediately, problems are dealt with as they occur not put aside to further fester.
Respect.  Integrity.  Sincerity.
People followed him, they were engaged at work and knew they were making a positive impact, and we got great business results.
Staff had a sense of agency.  Inspirational vision for the office.
Others followed, desired results, long term goals achieved over time
In the past, smaller, human service nonprofits looked at our local community foundation from a top-down view. Now our view (as I am one of those smaller nonprofits) we see more of a dialogue with us in identifying what works in our community, and what may need “tweaking” or seeking a different maneuver.
He was inspiring. Made you want to do great things without using fear as a motivator. Also made you want to emulate him.
Leading by example.   Inclusive
The group flourished – events went smoothly, new people joined the group
Built trust because people knew she would not change her tune or nature when she was away from them.  She built safe spaces with and for people.
Great team spirit, and a willingness to go the extra mile.
Everyone knew she meant business and she was successful in earning people’s respect and in being a success at her position.
Others are extraordinarily energized and uplifted to make not only their company the best, but to have their company as a whole, be a socially, responsible force for “good” in the world.
Staffs worked hard & cooperatively.
Individuals were willing to take risks outside of comfort zone.
Our clients (students and families and school district) benefitted
People, myself included, are inspired and motivated to work hard as part of their team. Increased trust in their vision for the agency.
The classroom was an environment of partnership and mutual respect.
People liked their jobs.
People shared thoughts and opinions.
Safe environment to grow and learn.
People not afraid to be honest for fear of retribution.
Others followed his lead.
Their inspirational leadership made the working climate favourable for novel ideas, new projects and team members’ personal growth.
When these practices are applicable involvement, and enthusiasm are common results.
allowed me to be who I am – with all my positive and negatives.
Mimicry (paying it forward).
It brought out the best in everyone and created an amazing team. Hers was a model that influenced each of us to interact in that same way. We appreciated and used each other’s strengths and differences. There was no threat or competition.
effective results, enjoyed our work, honesty, met our goals, creativity,
They were trustworthy and made me want to be like them.
I improved as an employee/intern and felt confident I could go to her with any issues – I was not afraid to ask questions and this made me more comfortable.
Built multiple teams based on the same principles all committed to the work.
Really clear focus on what everyone was doing.
Both the employees, and the customers, and even a casual delivery man, etc could feel the palpable energy, and wanted to be part of contributing to it.
I trusted his judgment. We worked for each other. He adopted my vision and we worked towards it.
He was revered by all who knew him
Created an environment and relationships that made it easy for others to be open and real. Promoted teaming and solid relationships and trust. High performance. And big loyalty!
We’re succeeding as a company that is beginning to be seen as transforming the future of transportation.
Not waiting for things to get better on their own; enhanced job satisfaction; desire for results
Motivated staff, other people catching the same vision
Duplication throughout the organization
Working for her was empowering because she kept me informed and I could trust her to give me honest feedback. I felt very comfortable sharing most everything with her, and I always knew her to do the same. When she taught or gave advice, she would base it in her own experience, which made me trust her at a deeper level. She helped to lift people up because she created a shared experience from which we could all learn and grow, an experience that never made her the “LEADER”.
He inspired me to be the best in my profession and the best I can be in my personal life, regardless of the costs
Developed an extemely capable and loyal staff that went above and beyond to make things happen. Incredible results.
Individuals around him believed in him and themselves and performed at a high level consistently.
development of a close relationship with strong foundation in trust and confidence — a relationship that has long term chances for success in achieving goals and targets that really matter.
Fabulous programs and authentic fact based learning.
Energized you and motivates you to provide discretionary effort to help.
People worked hard to accomplish what they agreed to and believed in. The goals of the department were not second guessed due to hidden motives of the leader. As a leader, he did not have to demand respect, he naturally earned it through the successes of the organization.
Everyone felt that being a student at the school was important
People follow their example
People are motivated to work hard and solve problems
People follow the vision
By far Dan Mulhern is the most “AUTHENTIC LEADER” I personally know.  The way he leads his classroom is very empowering.  Professor Dan encouraged me to believe in myself, along with demonstrating a clear vision.  My experience with Professor Dan as a student and mentor was so rich and insightful, full of leadership lessons that I have taken with me in the professional world.
Builds commitment and Produces large-scale change
follow in his foot steps, work hard, think harder, plan further hard
Appointed highly knowlegable
Personnel to various positions in one of the State of Michigan’s most turbulent economic times it experienced in the 20 years prior to her governorship.
I could trust his counsel.
Genuineness from their employees.  Employees knew where they stood.  Open to communication
Loyalty from staff, buy in on initiatives, willingness to take risks
 She inspired a great deal of self confidence in me.  She was a great role model.  I knew she had my back.
He gave us the courage to dream not just big, but huge.  We stretched ourselves in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
people trusted him, looked to him to provide leadership
Sales team performance over time was consistently in the top. 10%.
People trusted her. They thought she was smart and fair. They admired her.
A great family
Improved the nation for years.
Freed Communist East Germany
Broke down the iron curtain
Freed many people held under Communist rule
He united people.   I felt more like I worked for him then I did for the company.   That personal connection made me more loyal and invested.
Quiet.  Well read. Emphasis placed on employee’s thoughts and actions. Giving space to employee so he/she would flourish. Had an incredible vision for the health of people. Very far ahead of his time. Did not need to take credit. He delighted in seeing your idea flourish.
I was always motivated to improve my skills and to stay updated while working for/with him.
We trusted him because he was genuine and because of that we had good relationships with him.
Nobody could question his motives even when people viscerally disagreed with him
Made we want to reciprocate.
Other people seemed to be elevated when in his presence.  He could really ‘rally the troops’ in a calm way.
His perspective was always positive and affirming and that’s contagious.
Trust that he was going to be open with each and everyone – that his authenticity would not allow him to play a game.  Holding himself accountable with a work and leadership ethic, and holding others accountable for their actions.   His focus was on results for the College, and he always had the students in mind – how could LCC create the right learning atmosphere for students so they could succeed in whatever field they wished – and he understood that technical areas were also extremely important for community college students and kept them in mind as well as transfer students.  His ability to create global connections for faculty, staff, students, and international students was way ahead of time, and invaluable to all.   He was always ready to roll up his sleeves and work hard in whatever was needed, especially when the college was in the formative stage – he even collected tuition in the very early days.  As the College grew to over 20,000 students, he didn’t have as much time to do every single thing, but always still took time to walk the campus and ensure it was in top shape for faculty, staff and students, and for the community – the major partner for a community college.   His integrity was impeccable and he held all of us to high standards, expectations and integrity of our lives and leadership.  He also mentored many of us.
Reinforced, empowered and nurtured shared commitment and servant leadership
The moral of the staff improved and we all work together as a team.
Team concept.  Everyone included.  He worked harder than he asked you to work.
Honesty and integrity and her love for job and students.
Easy to become one with and works with and collaborates with others.
We accomplished our goals and we all worked harder and problem solved, toi.  He elevated our game.
Groups have more open discussions of debates, because of his inclusive egalitarian style.

He is accessible (despite a killer schedule), will make decisions, and these two qualities help drive progress.

Staff and faculty trust him and are willing to give space and time for his ideas to play out.

People want to be involved with his initiatives. They share his vision and believe in his commitment and ability to affect change.

We work all the harder for people we like and respect.

Trust is key – especially in difficult times. Hard changes can be made when there is confidence in the leader’s, knowledge, ability and integrity,

Employees are willing to perform without reporting everything they are doing.   There is a great form of trust.
People were comfortable experimenting, failing and succeeding
People were challenged
People were respected
Better community relations.  Improved opinions of the district and trust resets blushes between school board and community.
We could always be honest
I was welcome to do my job and take risks.
Gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in a collaborative and nurturing environment. Treated the housekeeper the same as an administrator.  Did the right thing even if it differed from the politically correct thing to do.
The fact that all who have ever worked for her have grown to respect and admire her qualities; and even better, try to emulate them.
He practiced what he preached!…. That made everyone comfortable in his leadership style.
Respect at all levels of the organization.
Women won elected office & people gave money: she seized power.
Integrity and transparency.
She established a strong program and several of the core staff hired by her still work together 22 years late, long after she retired. The foundational principles she laid are still being followed today.
Relaxed trusting atmosphere, even when difficult opposing opinions were voiced.
Role model
His way of leadership builds loyalty and dedication to the institution.
Strong employee morale; employees take ownership of their work and are allowed creative freedom.
Department’s leadership worked hard to help him realize his vision for the department. Employee morale was good because of the leadership team he had assembled.
 Because of her strong work ethic and having the ability to lead in a positive manner you naturally want to follow her lead.  You want to make sure that everything you do is up to her high standards.  You never feel the task is more than you can handle because your boss has that attitude that everything possible you just have to think about it and come to a positive conclusion.
Trust, respect, imitation, desire to emulate, increased motivation, personal growth, higher achievement levels, increased satisfaction. I truly loved my relationship with this boss and my work.
I tried not to take everything personal or dire.  I put perspective on priority and impact to the organization.
I felt empowered to speak up and share my thoughts and opinions because they would be valued. She gave people rope to work with and empowered them to use their skills to move the organization.
He got results without making anyone critical or unhappy.
transparency and following your beliefs/true north.
Team Working Very Hard Together to Succeed
Good team spirit, feeling good about yourself
  • I did not take the survey, because I had a hard time pinning down what worked in leadership, since so of ten I had seen what I thought was the best leadership undermined. Somehow a leader must be on the defensive to protect order. In particular I have seen this in government and various nonprofit organizations.

  • Hello Dan:
    I have been doing more reading than writing, more listening than talking, more giving than taking lately — and discovered that other folks are more willing to work with me, listen to me, and read what I write. Listening — really, actively, pro-actively LISTENING is exceedingly difficult, when every instinct presses me to TELL others what I think is right. In general, authentic folks spend little time TELLING others what they should (or must) do. Most folks resist being told what to do. If I listen, asking and answering questions, we become partners on the road to understanding. Seems to me this is the most efficient and effective means to gently lead — by inviting others to join me on my journey. BTW, yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my blood and marrow stem cell transplant, and obviously I am still alive!


    • Mick,
      I am so happy for you. Happy that you are alive . . . and that you are thriving! When I think back 10 years (or more!) to how you shared some of your anger and frustration with resistant (probably backwards) authorities, it is amazing to hear your tone and wisdom now. If you don’t mind my saying so, there was something “curmudgeonly” about the “midnight writer” (was that your nom de plume?), but your brief comment here suggests a greater peacefulness, “gently lead[ing]” now, which you describe as “efficient and effective!” It reminds me of how Gandhi wrote that “The more efficient a force is, the more silent and the more subtle it is.” And then he went on to say “Love is the most efficient force of all.”
      Thanks for the inspiration, brother!

  • Mick, I recall Dan posting few things about you, and I had thought that the absence of news meant you were gone.

    • Hello Mark!
      The battle continues and each day is a blessing! Thanks for noticing my silence! I spend much more time listening (and lurking) and a lot less time trying to sound profound these days. Lately, it seems that everyone is talking at once, fixing blame instead of fixing problems. I figured, maybe if I whisper, someone will hear! Best of luck!

  • Mick,
    You’re on to something when it comes to the value of listening, quiet, silence. Tom Friedman’s latest book, Thank You For Being Late, is quite fascinating in this regard. He argues that the pace of change (technology, globalization and climate) are outpacing our ability to adapt. Your listening is surely a gift!

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