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Introduction to Authentic Christian Leadership
We live in a time when the line between “reality” and “authenticity” has blurred. For example, television shows feature strangers marrying strangers, celebrity housewives and husbands, and one family attempting to keep up with another.
Interestingly, these realities bear no resemblance to the realities that the majority of us live or experience on a daily basis.
What is a Reality Leader?
So, what is a “Reality Leader”? I am sure you are familiar with or have met one.
Leadership is entirely about them.
Followers exist only to serve them. They are suckers for sound bites, photo ops, and handshakes. They say things because they believe it is what the public wants to hear.
They practice something I call “invisible transparency,” which means they are transparent about the information they want you to know, mainly when it benefits them.
They do not hold individuals accountable; in fact, they publicly praise them and gossip about them behind their backs. They are everywhere: at work, school, and, yes, even church. They have perfected the technique of “excluding God.”
What is Authentic Leadership?
Ego is not a factor in authentic leadership. Jesus did not puff up his chest and demand that everyone follow his commands simply because he is the boss.
In the world of leadership, authentic leadership is a relatively new concept. Bill George coined the term “Authentic Leadership” in 2003, and the premise is that the key to being a successful leader is to be yourself .
“To thine own self, be true” –Hamlet, Shakespeare
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I have become. If I had, I would have done it a lot earlier.” –Oprah Winfrey
The key behaviors of an authentic leader
Genuineness is the central component of Authentic Leadership, which means that each authentic leader is unique. No two authentic leaders are alike. Nonetheless, there are several characteristics that these leaders frequently share.
- Consistently demonstrate behaviors that inspire trust in them
- Take ownership of their actions when they make a mistake and share responsibility for any errors
- Demonstrate the necessary courage to advance up the leadership ladder, to challenge the status quo, or to defend their people or processes
According to studies, people today are highly insecure about what is happening around them. Unfortunately, the demand for authentic leadership has increased significantly due to recent social upheavals. Today’s generation yearns for trustworthy leaders.
Five Characteristics of Authentic Leaders
The following are the 5 Characteristics of Authentic Christian Leadership:
- Understand their purpose
- Strong convictions about doing the right thing
- Develop relationships with others based on trust
- Demonstrate self-control and act following their values
- Act from the heart and are sensitive and empathetic to the plight of others.
4 Components of Authentic Christian Leadership
Authentic Christian Leadership is comprised of four components
- Self-awareness (reflecting on core values and the impact they have on others)
- Internalized moral perspective (self-regulating, not bending to outside pressures)
- Balanced processing (avoiding favoritism, soliciting viewpoints from those who disagree with you)
- Relational transparency (sharing core feelings, motives, and inclinations. Both positive and negative. Communicating openly).
Application of Authentic Christian Leadership
The common themes of authentic Leadership teach us that people have the capacity to learn to be authentic leaders. Authentic leaders understand how to do the right thing, be truthful to themselves and others, and work for the common good. Authentic Leadership has a tremendously positive impact on organizations.
As a side note, a 2014 study examined the effect of authentic Leadership on followers’ morality and discovered that authentic leaders significantly reduced followers’ inclinations to make unethical choices when faced with temptation. Authentic Leadership morally strengthens followers.
Actions of Authentic Leaders
Authentic leaders are committed to continuous learning to better understand themselves as individuals and how they and others perceive the world. They have a strong sense of self-awareness that grows over time – it is a lifelong journey of learning from experiences and sharing them.
They connect with others through their stories of triumph and defeat, happy and challenging times, and accomplishments and setbacks. Genuine leaders must understand who they are.
However, Christian Authentic Leaders also need to know WHOSE they are. Authentic leaders can put their egos aside and genuinely empower and develop others.
‘Big ego leadership’ is the polar opposite of authentic leadership. Authentic Leadership’s first and most fundamental principle is ‘it is not about me.’
Authentic leaders influence and inspire others by disclosing a little bit about themselves. Authentic leaders instill humility, credibility, and trust in those around them by being able to ‘lift their veil’ and reveal their true selves.
They generate credibility by showing their humanness. They are followed not as a result of the leader’s manipulation, carrot or stick strategy, threats, or even their power or position, but due to their compelling influence.
How leaders can cultivate their authentic leader selves
There are numerous activities that leaders can engage in to increase their authenticity and become more authentic leaders. Among the things they can do are the following:
- Explore their life story. Authentic leaders can benefit from self-discovery as a means of becoming more authentic. They need to process their experiences, make sense of what they have been through, and rediscover their true selves. When you delve into your own self-awareness, you become more capable of being yourself and allowing others to see that side of you.
- Allow time for reflection. In our 1000-mile-per-hour world, it is critical to take a step back and be introspective. By devoting time to reflection, you can better understand your values, enabling you to be a more effective leader. Allow yourself time to reflect without the distraction of your phone or task lists. In order to be more authentic to yourself, examine how you live your life and interact with those around you.
- Solicit feedback. Authentic leaders understand that in order to be effective, they must first understand how others perceive them. Seeking out candid feedback and then acting on it is critical for leaders to grow and develop. Genuine leaders desire to improve and change for the benefit of their employees, which is why it is critical to surround themselves with individuals who will provide candid feedback.
- Study your own leadership style. Genuine leaders are aware of their innate leadership styles. They are aware of their situation and the people they manage, and they can adapt their style as necessary while remaining true to themselves. Flexible styles are authentic because they stem from a genuine place and extend the compassion and heart that leaders must demonstrate to connect with their employees.
In today’s world, honest and dependable leadership is tough to find. Authentic Christian leadership will better prepare you to face the challenges and bring trust and value to your team and organization.
(1) George, Bill. (2003). Authentic Leadership. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.
Chris “The Beast” Hall
Chris “The Beast” Hall is a former professional fighter with a record of 69-6. “The Beast” had 29 wins by KO with 19 of those coming in the first round. After retiring from fighting, Chris discovered a passion for leadership and teaching.
Chris has a bachelors degree in Organizational Leadership, a Master’s degree in Leadership, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Chris cohosts “Lead 12:12”, a Christian Leadership podcast teaching that leadership isn’t about holding authority of someone else, but by positively influencing people to reach new heights.
Based on Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
You can find more information at their website at https://www.lead1212.com
Chris is married to the lovely Sharon Hall and has twin sons, Westyn and Dustyn.