History's most powerful leaders use emotion to be impactful and influential leaders. But, emotion can be vulnerable. Having delivered over 1,500 keynotes, witnessing a variety of leadership styles, one can't help but see the value of authentic leadership. Bottom line, "You can't show your true authentic self without being somewhat vulnerable." But how can a powerful leader avoid exhibiting weakness?
Oh, dear reader, it is tempting to give you examples of what not to do. Unfortunately, those very people who have hired yours truly, might be reading this 70 second eBrief. By going into too much detail, they may think they are the 'bad example.' Oh, and what's that saying about stone throwers in glass houses... We won't go there. Let's focus on the mindset necessary be a powerful, authentic leader.
1st, Weakness Does Not Equal Honesty. There is a barrier to vulnerability if honesty takes a back seat to practicality. Executives giving a keynote clearly have a nerve-racking job. He or she has one chance to deliver the goods. But, robotically delivering a speech through a teleprompter is worse then a temporary mess up here or there. Honest, extemporaneous thought underpinning a well-crafted speech demonstrates a trusted leader. Just look at politicians who deliver a speech on a teleprompter and compare your gut-feel when that same politician is interviewed one on one. There is a genuine honesty that can be revealed when the mechanics are taken away.
2nd, Speak From the Heart and Your Noggin. Talking about your kids, or your parents, or a time when you struggled shows your employees you are human. Couple that with rational insights and people connect.
3rd, Speak Authentically and You Show Courage. The moment you open your mouth, audience members start evaluating your authenticity. To be honest, open, clear and vulnerable is the ultimate example of courage on stage. Your people will follow a courageous leader.
Hopefully, you have taken the leap to interpret this information as a life skill as well. If you are honest, people won't think of you as weak. If you demonstrate your viewpoint from your head and heart, those important to you will see your genuine intent. Finally, be courageous by being authentically you. Hiding behind a persona or an act to avoid conflict is more transparent than we may care to admit.
Finally, know this "advice" is a constant pursuit of mine as well. It is entirely human to know this stuff and slip up now and then. You may read this and think, "Easy for you to say." In fact, it's my life long pursuit to stay the authentic course. Whether it is leadership for the self or on the leadership keynote slot on the corporate agenda. You and I can only do the best we can.
Kick the teleprompter over. Be the authentic leader you were born to be.