030217-authentic leader 2

Being an Authentic, Inspirational, and Innovative Leader

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Going beyond just driving results and building sustainable growth.

Dynamic and effective leadership is based on the gold standard of authenticity. It is built on having a real purpose and on consistently sharing moral values. This type of leader is self-aware and transparent. In an ever-evolving work environment, a caring and down-to-earth leader can successfully inspire a workforce, drive creative thinking processes, and deliver on an environment of innovative relationships.

Author Max DePree published a book almost 30 years ago entitled Leadership Is an Art. He describes several points essential to artful leadership: “One of the particular skills leaders are required to exemplify in practice is the indispensable knack for building and nurturing relationships. Create human connections—human relationships are primarily a matter of the heart.” 


To inspire authentic leadership from both the head and the heart, managers need to: 

  • Influence and motivate a desire for a culture of excellence. 
  • Spur an engagement with innovative imagination. 
  • Leverage the strength of self-awareness and self-reflection.

Inspiring leaders utilize and leverage the strengths of self-awareness. They build their personal insights based on self-reflections and self-evaluation. These authentic leaders look at their accomplishments as well as specific outcome measurements regarding achievement results. Their commitment to their roles and involvement with the organization drives employee engagement. Their followers are inspired, resulting in strong and exciting relationships.
These dynamic leaders communicate openly and actively listen from their hearts, showing a willingness to take risks and move outside their comfort zones. They constructively enhance their strengths and accept their weaknesses, yet always have a passion for their business purpose and a caring attitude for diversity in backgrounds as well as experiences. Authentic, inspiring leaders encourage personal flexibility along with involvement in the many organizational challenges that surface every day. They create and build a culture of excellence.


As John Zenger, Joe Folkman, and Scott Edinger, authors of The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate, say, “Leaders who know how to inspire others have higher levels of employee satisfaction and commitment, much better retention, and a substantially large percentage of highly committed employees.” 


To drive leadership impact through strategic thinking, analytics, and planning, managers need to: 

  • Direct the ownership of creative ideas and build them into dynamic actions. 
  • Encourage trusting relationships and enhance the feelings of being valued. 
  • Empower with openness and empathy in all messages and communications.

A strategic driving leader, also always authentic in nature, focuses on enhancing corporate performance and on successfully affecting business outcomes. They direct creative ideas and analytical insights into valued solutions, exciting decisions, and outstanding actions. The employee population has trust and respect for this inspiring leader, who shows appreciation for achieving diversity and for driving inclusion. Relationships grow based on high levels of engagement, motivation, and commitment. These leaders stay well connected with the organization, are good observers, and are able to adapt their behaviors specific to changing situations. They are great communicators, providing a compelling and clear vision that can grow into day-to-day actions. Action plans and strategies are built on personal responsibilities through effective influencing skills and empowering capabilities.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations, define leaders as a “positive force” that “make a difference.” “Some people see beyond that horizon and into the future. They believe that dreams can become reality. They open our eyes and lift our spirits. They build trust and strengthen our relationships. They stand firm against the winds of resistance and give us the courage to continue the quest. We call these people leaders.” 


To deliver outstanding results and sustainable outcomes by igniting behavioral changes and commitment to performance, managers need to:

  • Build quality customer relationships and increase company profitability. 
  • Resolve conflicts by addressing difficult issues straight on. 
  • Demonstrating appreciation and acknowledgment of achievements and contributions toward business growth.

The authentic, inspiring, and driving leader delivers sustainable strategic changes and corporate growth. Quality outcomes leads to an increase in company profitability based on enhanced customer relationships and strong employee commitment. Conflicts are resolved quickly, networks are raised to new levels, and actions are clearly turned into dynamic results. Employees feel connected and have fun at work, because their leader appreciates their contributions. Innovative and engaged leaders are able to size up situations successfully and help make work performance meaningful. The clarity of purpose and realistic behaviors help drive and deliver the desired results based on the strong belief and acceptance of the leader.
Inspirational leaders are always focused on growth and on the utilization of the head, heart, and personal perspectives. They celebrate successes and accomplishments. These authentic and creative leaders are able to excite commitment to challenges and provide motivating supportive behaviors. Consider the words of Judith Umlas, author of Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage all Your People and Achieve Superior Results: “Acknowledging your people is a sure way of building genuine trust and a culture of appreciation that can help people give their best efforts. Gratitude is one of the deepest forms of affirmative self-expression.”

About the Author
Paul Fein is an organizational development consultant and certified life coach. As the the managing leader and director of The IDD Leadership Group, he a develops custom-created management development programs. Connect with Paul on LinkedIn. 
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