How Can You Be an Authentic Leader?

Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog Authentic Leadership
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This article is about authentic leadership and how you can develop and propagate it.

Last weekend I followed an intensive course, and a friend asked me what this course brought me, what I learned and what it has given me.

It comes down to that I want to stand for who I am and that I am no longer keeping myself small. I’m not doing anyone a favor with that.

Authentic leadership plays an important role in this—personal leadership and leadership to a group, a company, or organization.

Each of us has leadership qualities, and it is up to us to discover and develop them. In this way, we can enthuse and stimulate others for our goals or things we attach great importance to.

What is authenticity?

According to Lance Secretan, Leadership is the alignment of the head, mouth, heart, and feet. It builds trust when you are consistent in thinking, saying, and doing. People love people they can trust.


A good leader withdrew when a Māori tribe in New Zealand returned from a battle a few hundred years ago. He did not seek recognition, honor, or admiration from others. He knew he had done well when the members of his tribe said to each other, “WE have done this well.” A good leader knows how to bring others together and give people a sense of togetherness and ownership. When talking in front of a group, use the words “we” or “we” often. It creates unity and togetherness.


How does a leader deal with emotions? And is a leader allowed to show emotions? Not to manipulate others on purpose, but show them to express who they are. Often we want to hide our emotions, such as fear, sadness, or anger. My experience is that they keep getting bigger when we ignore or bury our emotions. The next time you feel any of the four basic emotions of anger, sadness, fear, or happiness, acknowledge and welcome them. You will notice that this means that they have less control over you so that you can do better what you have to do at such a moment. By acknowledging it, you can be more authentic and appear stronger. Be honest and say you’re angry, sad, happy, or scared. Everyone recognizes these emotions because they suffer from them too.

Let go & listen

Toki by master carver Toroa Aperahama

Last year a Māori elder gave me a Toki. It is a pendant with a symbol that looks like an ax. Toki means ax in Māori and stands for strength, perseverance, leadership, and wisdom. It’s a strong symbol. Still, I’ve learned to be able to bury this ax (or some of the features of this symbol) for authentic leadership. That can even be when strength or wisdom is what you need during a conflict. Other things can happen that are better for the situation by putting those strengths aside.

For example, I gave a workshop for sixty tough men and women a while back. They did not want to do what I asked them. It is then easy to press on, show even more strength, or walk away. I then asked them what was bothering them and what they needed. Then it is important to listen. By listening louder, I found out what their need was. That was to be heard and find inspiration in the stories I could tell. There was no need for the working methods I had in mind. The workshop failed, but the process was a success. I used perseverance and acknowledged and welcomed my fears that I was a failure when no one wanted to participate, and everyone looked at me critically. That gave me confidence and peace of mind.

Know yourself

Ultimately, authentic leadership is about being able and daring to be yourself. These are the moments when you don’t put on a mask and when you are in the flow. Then it helps to know who you are, what your character strengths are, what your values ​​are in life, what your WHY is, and that you are aware of yourself.

Lead with WHY

I am convinced that your WHY can help you be an authentic leader. It will help you be consistent in what you’re thinking, saying, and doing.

Your WHY is strongly linked to feelings. Your WHY is your contribution and its effect on the world. It’s an infinite goal, it’s positive, and it’s action-oriented. By living and propagating your WHY as a leader, you are authentic.

If you can not only explain to others why you are doing something but you can convey what feelings belong to it, then it will be more clear to others. It is more than generating more leads, sales, or increasing profit margins. They feel more connected to your goal, mission, or business. It is up to you to create an environment for people you lead in which they feel that they are part of something bigger.

People who understand and feel your WHY will go with you. Others don’t. Is that bad? Not really, because it costs you more energy, persuasion, and attention to keep these people with you. The energy you can use much better to live your WHY to the fullest, stand for who you are, and experience a real connection with the people around you. That’s also something that last weekend brought me: valuable and loving connections with people that I got to get to know again. I am very grateful for that.

Discover your WHY

Do you want to discover your WHY to help you be a more authentic leader? We can help you. Contact us today for a FREE introduction. Also, read this article about how to find WHY, WHAT to do, and what a WHY session looks like.

What is leadership to you? How do you stay authentic? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

Find Your WHY, Simon Sinek
Legacy, James Kerr

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