What I have learned this semester is all subsumed in how to become a more authentic leader. Over the course of the semester, I have come to realize that leadership is more than just being impactful and inspirational; it is about being authentic. Authentic leadership isn’t only about completing projects effectively; it is also about understanding who you are, being true to yourself, and guiding others with honesty and integrity.
In order to be an authentic leader, you need to have a good sense of self-understanding. Throughout this semester, I was able to gain insight into my core values, my strengths, and my personality, which all together helped me understand not only who I am as a person, but also as a leader.
My Core Values
Competing Values Framework Profile
Based on these results, my strongest core values are creativity and collaboration. As a leader, this means that I am innovative and imaginative, but also enjoy working with a team and building strong relationships. While these values are important in any leadership setting, in order for me to truly become an authentic leader, I need to ensure that I do not overplay these roles. Often creativity can lead to being unrealistic and uncertain, and it is important that I am careful not to cross these boundaries.
Gallup’s Strength Finder
By learning what my strengths are, I am continuing to increase my self-awareness. As one can see, my strengths are pretty evenly distributed amoung the four main themes. What I find the most important however, is how these strengths tie into my core values. The strengths of Restorative, Command, Ideation, and Futuristic all stem from my core value of creativity. My ability to solve problems, my desire to take charge, my fascination for ideas, and my enthusiasm for the future are all generated by my vision, imagination, and influence on others. Additionally, the strength of Includer can be attributed to my value of collaboration. By including everyone in the group and encouraging active participation, I am able to promote open communication and create strong relationships within the team.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator
I have also increased my self-awareness and overall authentic leadership by better understanding my personality. The results above illustrate that I am an ESTJ personality type. Being an extrovert, I am energized by people and enjoy working with a team. This is consistent with my core value of collaboration and my strength of Includer. Sensing suggests that I am practical and take in information by looking at the facts; Thinking indicates that I use logic and objective reasoning when making a decision; and Judging suggests that I come to decisions and move on.
One’s MBTI also indicates their temperament and being an ESTJ means that I am a Guardian. Being a Guardian suggests that what I say is concrete, in that I talk about reality, and what I do is cooperative, in that I do what is right. I find that this is very reflective of my personality due to my desire to be ethical and fair. Having integrity is a major part of being an authentic leader and it is something that I value and apply to everything I do.
Where do I go from here?
Simply knowing your strengths and values is not what makes you an authentic leader. Rather it is about improving on your strengths and putting yourself in an atmosphere where you can succeed. We have learned the 3 myths about strengths, the second of which states that you need to work on your weaknesses. However, I feel that it is more important for me to improve on my strengths and surround myself with people who can make up for my weaknesses.
Now that I am more self-aware of my strengths, values, and personality, I have the opportunity to build on my authentic leadership. In order to do this, I plan on making it my mission to apply these strengths whenever I can. My overall goal however, is to make the shift from being a good leader to a great leader.
How will I get from Good to Great?
Every great leader has a vision. A vision is more than just a visual representation of an objective. A vision lays the foundation to develop as a leader and provides a framework to achieve your goals. My vision is as follows:
“I will work hard on everything I do, no matter how big or small. I will take responsibility for my actions. I will make decisions with integrity. I will not lose sight of my moral values. I will help others become the best they can be.”
This vision implies more than just success. It exemplifies the characteristics that I believe a true authentic leader encompasses: hard work, responsibility, integrity, and enhancing others. Often in life, people’s actions do not fall in line with their values; however, I believe that if you are willing to work hard and take responsibility, you will always ensure that the two coincide.
In addition to having a vision, a great leader needs to create SMART leadership development goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. I have created two SMART goals to help me shift from being a good leader to a great one.
The first goal is to listen rather than hear. In order for me to be a more authentic leader, I feel it is important to work on my communication skills. By truly listening to others and taking the effort to understand what they are saying, I feel I will be a more effective communicator and a better leader. I plan to implement this throughout the year while working in my corporate partner group. By implementing this now, I hope to develop better habits when I enter into the real business world.
The second goal I have created is to learn to effectively manage my workload. Being in the MBA has shown me the difficulty of juggling many projects at once, especially in a group setting. However, I know that it only gets more difficult once you enter the real workforce. I therefore hope to better understand my working style and optimize it to effectively manage my time and effort. I plan to work on this throughout the MBA by setting schedules in advance, implementing deadlines, and staying on top of my work.
The last way I will get from good to great is by shifting from the normal to the fundamental states of leadership. The first shift involves a change from being self-focused to others-focused. This is something that I feel have already achieved and is displayed through my core value of collaboration and strength of Includer. The second shift involves moving from being internally closed to externally open. This is something that I need to work on. I hope to improve this through my goal of increasing my communication skills. If I am better able to communicate with others, I feel that I will be more open to express my thoughts and feelings. The third shift is moving from being comfort-centered to purpose-centered. Leaving my comfort zone is something that I struggle with. However, with the presentations and group work I have participated in throughout the semester, I feel that I am improving in this regard and hope to continue to push myself to become a more purpose-centered leader. The final shift towards a fundamental state of leadership involves moving from being externally directed to internally directed. In order for me to achieve this shift, I feel it is necessary for me to improve my self-motivation and competitiveness. Seeing that blue is not one of my core values, I feel this is an area where I can improve and hope to work on this throughout the remainder of my MBA.
How will I go about asking for and acting on feedback and coaching?
Coaching and feedback are often misunderstood as something that is negative when in reality, they are both opportunities to improve yourself through growth and development. Joe Abercrombie stated: “I have learned all kinds of things from my many mistakes. The one thing I never learn is to stop making them.” This reflects how I will go about asking for and acting on feedback and coaching. I understand that I will always make mistakes, and I plan to use feedback and coaching to ensure I don’t make the same mistake twice. I plan to constantly ask for feedback and become comfortable with both positive and constructive criticism. I will take this advice to heart and try to improve myself and grow as a person.
Overall, this semester has laid the groundwork for how I can become an authentic leader. However, the learning and development process has just begun. As I grow, I will become more self-aware and improve on myself to hopefully one day turn my vision into a reality and become an authentic and impactful leader.