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The Ability to Lead Others Starts With The Ability to Know Yourself

Great leadership is a skill rooted in authenticity and there are as many ways to be a great leader as there are people in the world. But before you can lead others, you must first be able to know, embrace and embody your true self.

More vital than charisma and intelligence, the ability to empathize and willingness to serve have been shown to be required traits to build leadership acumen. In fact, research finds that oftentimes, charismatic leaders lack essential listening skills and therefore attract followers who are less willing to speak up.

According to leadership expert and scholar Peter Drucker, the most common characteristic amongst great leaders is integrity. Integrity is the natural result of being authentic and fully yourself. Meaning, the best way to become an effective leader is to find congruence between what you think, say and do. That said, in order to become an effective leader you have to know who you are: your values, your strengths, what you stand for, why you stand for it, and what your ethics are. Then act on them.

First, identify who you really are then externalize it.

In the words of the Dalai Lama, “We are much more alike than different.” As we get to know ourselves deep down, both our blind spots and our strengths, we increase our ability to relate to others, which gives us insight into our common humanity. Understanding others allows for empathy to naturally unfold – one of the best markers of leadership skill. And the better we know others, the more fully we can serve them.

Leadership is service.

Leadership is about contributing meaningfully to the lives of others in a distinct way that understands what they need. It requires keen listening skills and the ability to feel who we are and authentically relate to others from this place. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of others is essential to leading effectively; but before we can jump into someone else’s shoes we first have to figure out what’s going on in our own.

“Know thyself was the inscription over the Oracles of Delphi. And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why want to doit, you cannot succeed in any way but the most superficial sense of the word.” Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader

Who are you? What do you value? What do you stand for? What do you desire? When you start with uncovering the authentic you, you can then move from self awareness to the awareness of others.

Remember, there is no one-size fits all style of leadership. There are as many ways to be a great leader as there are people in the world. This week I encourage you to consider this thought: if you were to expand your reach as a leader, what change could you affect just by being you?

As always, I send you my love.

Big hugs to you,


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