In the article Discovering Your Authentic Leadership by George, Sims, McLean & Mayer (2011), the main points are that there are no set traits or characteristics that make one a leader and as such, a person does not have to be born with such set of traits in order to become an authentic leader. Instead, authentic leadership is borne out of an understanding of one’s life story, especially from the way they’ve overcome the difficulties they’ve experienced in their lives. Authentic leaders have an awareness of who they are and try to stay true to who they are instead of imitating others. Moreover, authentic leaders act on their self-awareness through the practice of their values and principles, even at their own risk.
For me, what stood out the most from the article was the quote, “When your success, your career, or even your life hangs in the balance, you learn what is most important, what you are prepared to sacrifice, and what trade-offs you are willing to make” (George et al., 2007, p. 134). I think that a leader’s character and authenticity really get tested during difficult times. It’s easy to stand by one’s values and principles when things are going well. However, when problems are encountered where standing by one’s values and principles can lead to the loss of something, then a leader’s authenticity is tested in that the leader is able to choose what’s more important for him or her. If he or she chooses to stand by his or her values and principles despite the odds, then it can be said that the leader really knows himself or herself and is, thus, authentic.
I completely agree with the points raised in the article. Although many researchers have tried to define the traits of a good leader, I agree that in the end, leadership really varies from person to person, given that we are all unique and have our own strengths and weaknesses. I also believe that everyone has the potential to become leaders but that those who turn out to be good leaders are those who are aware of who they are, are passionate about what they do, and who stay firm despite the pressures and difficulties that may come.
Finally, I found the article to be very refreshing and enlightening as it did not attempt to merely add to the vast literature that aims to provide a set definition for good leadership. On the contrary, I think that the authors of the article were able to provide a realistic description of what authentic leadership is and how one can be an authentic leader, based on their own personalities and their own life stories.
George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A.N. & Mayer, D. (2007, February). Discovering your authentic
leadership. Harvard Business Review, 129-138.