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Approaching Authentic Leadership

Every day in our personal/professional engagements, we look for guidance, examples, or support as it relates to leadership. No matter where you fall within the leadership spectrum: executive with an established legacy or relatively new to your industry, leadership plays a role in not only your professional development but in your reputation and industry success. We look to our leaders for a vision, a plan, and an attitude of “how can I contribute my best to support the organization…” At least in my world that’s how I approach my daily duties and efforts. And given my associations with many accomplished colleagues, I feel fairly safe in saying they approach their contributions in a similar manner.

Authentic leadership is an area of interest for me because I have been fortunate enough to have several authentic leaders as supervisors who made significant contributions to my career. For me professionally, I believe in being authentic with your teams and there are many approaches and styles that support being more authentic with your teams. For me personally, I spend more time with my collective work colleagues than I do my family and friends so a level of trust, respect, and honesty have to be the foundation from which everything else is built upon in order to establish those relationships.

So as I am always reading the latest book, catching a podcast, or posting an article along these lines, I wanted to share examples and stories from those leaders who are doing amazing things because they are willing to be authentic in their approach and style. This series is devoted to understanding how we define authentic leaders and how we apply those traits in our workplace. Many have been so enthusiastic in sharing their stories and thoughts with me and in turn, I am sharing those with a broader audience. Why? Because I know there is a value and interest in wanting to be a better leader and we can learn vicariously through other’s experiences. Whether it’s a small change in your approach or the realization that you can step out of your comfort zone, this blog is committed to doing all of that plus helping share quality resources that will help you along your leadership journey.

Wanting to start from a place of full disclosure, I have an authentic approach that I use within my professional approach that I refer to as pure heart leadership. Pure Heart is an approach that came from a place of working with others in an effort to help them work through barriers and challenges. My responses and efforts came from the heart and most of time, I realized the situation wasn’t about me but people approaching me for several reasons.

Let me explain- being in a leadership role requires being committed to working with and for others who are looking to grow in their role or maybe long term within the industry of choice. Tough love comes from the same address as pure heart and when people know you care, the message is still the same- Someone gives a damn. Having a team doesn’t mean you are a leader- its means you are a manager and supervise a group of individuals. Being a leader denotes a level of commitment, engagement, involvement, and accountability for how the path develops or stalls.

For me, pure heart is about meeting people where they are and putting all egos aside for a common goal. Sounds simple enough but it’s challenging when we have to work through all the ego systems, defense mechanisms, and life experiences that have made us jaded at times. It’s about being real and engaged with another individual to such a degree that there is a common understanding, goal, and commitment to create a change that works to benefit that other person. It’s not about what I think is best for them, it’s about what they want to achieve and their dreams and providing insight and support along the way. My charge and aspiration is that we work together for their goal in order to see them be successful in that achievement. Better yet, they take on their new role in embracing another soul to share the same experience and pay it forward by returning the favor.

Pure heart is what brings me joy in working with others. It compliments both my professional and personal relationships because it adds a dimension of truth and value. It grounds me which in turns supports my growth and determination to help others along their path. My feel good in this approach is in motivating or supporting others to find their value and desired successes. It’s intoxicating and addictive. It is one of the most honest and challenging leadership approaches because it demands your authentic self, engaged mindfulness and honest reflection in order to perform for the greater good of the overall team.

So in the weeks and months to come, I will be sharing stories and conversations from other leaders who I respect and value in their contributions to being authentic leaders. Would really appreciate your comments, feedback, and suggestions on how we share best practices and thoughts around being are most authentic self as leaders. Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey!

Shana Garrett is a Counselor, Educator, and Pure Heart Leader President and CEO. She brings over thirty years of program development, management, and transformation to the diverse world of proprietary education as well as over eight years of experience as a paralegal. More about me »

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