Authentic Leadership - The Dark Horse
There is no doubt that there is a science to management that takes time to master. The demands from industry forced pioneering managers to take up the role of leader too. This thrusts a set of 3-balls to juggle in to prospective entrepreneurs' hands that are still trying to navigate their way through the terrors of marketing, branding, culture building in the circus of digital business.
"Leadership" was not a term forced onto grumpy autocratic managers to make them more likeable. Rather, the ability was recognised and noted as masses started to follow key individuals that shaped our history. As an entrepreneur, I don't mind telling you that I think the role of manager is easier to master than it is to quantify the role of leadership.
It is difficult to teach old dogs to engage in the lives of those they manage, but it is even harder to groom authentic leadership. This is the 4th ball potential leaders need to learn to juggle. Authentic leadership is complex at the best of times. It is a difficult concept to apply in the work place when faced with crisis demanding immediate attention, mixed in with employees' livelihood at risk. The general feeling is that leadership is better approached by people that have personal authenticity as part of their own development. This, however, seems to put a limit on who is eligible for the leadership role.
This would back up the concept that leaders are born and not bred. As much as I agree that leadership cannot be taught in a classroom, I am uncomfortable siding with a concept that leadership is nothing more than genetic disposition. Genetics may add flair and flamboyance to the personality of certain leaders, as in the case of Martin Luther King, Richard Branson, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or even the late charismatic Nelson Mandela. This genetic charisma is not a set criterion for leadership otherwise we would not have seen great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.
Even though the exact recipe to develop outstanding leaders may elude scholars for the moment, the role of current leaders in grooming the next generation is essential. Not just in the sense of them mentoring interns that have worked their way up the corporate ladder, but at grass root level - get involved with children. As adults, experienced leaders and entrepreneurs we need to advocate the idea of authentic leadership to the children of now and their parents. Leaders and business people need to promote self discovery, drive the value of leadership development courses and programs and inspire kids to take up the torch of being authentic.
We need to engage people in authentic self expression at a very basic level, developing a sense of self worth and a healthy respect for others. The future of authentic leadership depends on the ability of current leaders to successfully implement the philosophy, and ignite the next generation with passion to continue forward. This would be like taking a child to the circus at a young age, and when the show is over, to go back stage and give him or her first hand experience at juggling. It will ignite an unquenchable fire to practice juggling with three and four balls into the late hours of night. Whether with flair or with a quiet determination, when their opportunity arrives to perform in front of a crowd, people will beam with admiration and praise believing such skill must be a talent with which they were born.