What being an authentic leader really means #blindpost

by Jeff Hilimire on July 12, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 8.11.33 AMThis is a blindpost on this HBR article, and per the blindpost rules I did not read the article until after I wrote this.

Let’s start with what being authentic means. To me being authentic means being trustworthy, being able to be relied on, being genuine, etc. It’s a pretty great word, actually. I’m not sure its a prerequisite of good leadership, but it’s a great attribute for a leader to have (or anyone for that matter).

So, being an authentic leader means…

Being an authentic leader means dropping the facade and being real. Not saying what you think people want to hear or what’s going to make you look good or what you think will appease people.

Being an authentic leader means being unafraid to have open conversations with your team. True, honest, open conversations with your people who deserve that kind of dialogue.

Being an authentic leader means staying true to your values. Not compromising on what you believe is the right thing to do.

Being an authentic leader means doing what’s right for your company and your team, and not what’s right for your career growth. The problem with this one is that too many leaders get to their position by focusing first on their career and second on what’s right for the company.

Being an authentic leader means doing what you say you’re going to do. Reliability is the cornerstone of authenticity.

Being an authentic leader means not playing favorites with your people. Treating everyone fairly. Giving everyone the same opportunity to succeed.

Being an authentic leader means admitting your mistakes and doing your best to learn from them. But admitting mistakes is key. Every leader takes chances…no, every good leader takes chances, and if you’re not failing you’re not taking enough chances.

Being an authentic leader means being willing to be the man in the arena.

What else? What does being an authentic leader mean to you?

Feel free to read more blindposts if you’re interested.

Note: I realize that I write a lot of these blindposts and blog posts in general about topics like “what makes a great leader” or “how to be a badass at whatever” and I feel like I should point out that I’m just giving my advice and not trying to insinuate that I AM all of these things. This one in particular, I have no idea if I’m an authentic leader or that anyone would describe me that way. Often I learn what I should be doing more of by writing these types of posts.


  • Pingback: Why Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and why he’s the most authentic leader going()

  • EJ

    Would add the following observations…an authentic leader knows her position and is comfortable with her authority, but she does not hold tightly to her positional authority as something to be lorded over the team. He is characterized by humility, curiosity and a vulnerability with his team creating a platform to engage with team members as well as opportunities to serve the team.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Terrific. Well said EJ!

Previous post:

Next post: