John Mattone is a best selling author, the world’s #1 authority on Intelligent Leadership, and one of the world’s most in-demand CEO coaches and leadership speakers.
In 2015 he was honored with the prestigious International Executive Coach Thought-Leader of Distinction Award, in recognition of his thought leadership and his work as a global leadership coach.
With the award, he received an honorary lifetime MCEC, becoming one of only four global executive coaches who currently hold this certiﬁcation. John Mattone’s Intelligent Leadership has been named one of the three Top Advanced Leadership Development Programs that Change Lives, along with programs by Tony Robbins and JohnMaxwell.
Leadership and Authenticity
“Authenticity” is a word that is used all the time, but how often do we think about what it actually means? Generally, we take authenticity to mean the quality of being at one with oneself, and that’s a good start.
On some basic level, “being oneself” is a given, because every time you make a choice or take an action, it is you who is doing it. But on another level, we can say that some of our thoughts, decisions, and acts don’t really express who we are. We’ve all occasionally said things we don’t really mean, for example. Authenticity is bound up in philosophy, moral psychology, responsibility, and identity.
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The authentic leader is aware of his or her strengths and limitations. He or she presents the real self to followers. An authentic leader doesn’t act one way in public and is completely different behind closed doors. Furthermore, the authentic leader owns up to mistakes and realizes that “leadership” is a journey and not a destination.
Without Character, you Ultimately have Nothing
The word “character” is derived from the Greek “kharakter”, which means “engraved mark” or “imprint on the soul”. In other words, character is a defining quality, but one over which each of us has significant control. Character may be “engraved” or “imprinted”, but in the human sense, it is “imprinted” on a living (and therefore changing) surface.
Your character is the sum total of the values etched on your soul, and whether you carefully “carve” your character or “hack away” at it randomly is up to you. In the end, however, your character will determine your value both as a leader and as a human being. The character you work at to define your soul, therefore, is an important determinant of your authenticity.
Inner Core Values; Outer Core Behaviors
Your inner core as a leader, another determinant of authenticity, is made up of the self-concept, values, emotional make-up, and thinking patterns you bring to the task. Your outer core as a leader manifests in the leadership behaviors you exhibit. A better understanding of your inner core strengths and weaknesses helps you better understand how you come across as a leader due to your outer core behaviors.
Inner core values and outer core behaviors are part of every leadership style. Those who make the absolute most of their strengths and behaviors as a leader while still recognizing and understanding their weaknesses are generally the leaders that can be described as “authentic”.
Three Basic Leadership Types
I created the Mattone Leadership Enneagram Inventory (MLEI) nearly 20 years ago, and have revised, validated, and tested it repeatedly since then. This measure of inner core maturity helps you understand what type of leader you are, so you can understand your strengths and gifts that should be leveraged, as well as your weaknesses that should be acknowledged and addressed.
There is no one leadership type or subtype that is “better” than others, because each organization has its own leadership needs and requirements. Yet any leader who wants to excel must understand his or her inner- and outer-core strengths and weaknesses in order to be the most effective leader possible.
There are three basic leadership types based on inner- and outer-core characteristics: those who lead from the head, the heart, or the gut.
People who lead from the head have the gift of being able to think clearly and get things done. With sufficient maturity, these leaders can help teams reach new levels of achievement, but they must be aware of insecurities that can counteract their maturity as leaders.
Head leaders can be divided into three subtypes: Thinkers (great problem solvers, who can nonetheless be indecisive); Disciples (who are loyal and dependent, but sometimes hesitant to act autonomously); and Activists (who have a positive outlook, but may use activism to distance themselves from pain).
The best leaders who lead from the heart understand the double-edged sword that is their emotions. Emotions are both their greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses. Those who lead maturely from the heart avoid selfishness, manipulation, jealousy, and self-involvement.
Subtypes of Heart leaders include Helpers (empathetic and great at handling conflict); Entertainers (who are charismatic and perfect when style and substance must stand out); and Artists (who are creative and innovative but risk being too self-involved).
Gut leaders are strongly engaged with their world – a world from which they have high expectations. Mature gut leaders can reach agreements that others probably cannot, finding common ground as long as they avoid being too perfectionistic and paralyzing people with the fear of mistakes.
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Gut leader subtypes include Drivers (who get things done but can be overly assertive); Arbitrators (who identify common ground among divisive elements); and Perfectionists (who can get amazing results but can be overly critical and potentially alienate team members).
Maturity level makes the difference
Knowing what type of leader you are is important, but it is your maturity level that makes the difference in whether you’re an authentic leader or simply playing a role.
Maturity means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing yourself and your leadership style well enough to know what situations, thought patterns, and behaviors have the most power to improve or derail your maturity.
Thought Patterns that Accompany Authentic Leadership
Like leadership styles, people have predominant thought patterns. The authentic leader, regardless of inborn leadership talent, actively works on mastering various types of thinking as a way to actively work on leadership skills until they become automatic. Thinking patterns authentic leaders are aware of and committed to developing include critical, practical, inspirational, integrative, imaginative, and intuitive thinking.
Critical thinking is brainpower. It’s objectively sizing up a situation with efficiency by gathering information from reliable sources and then looking at the situation from more than one point of view.
Critical thinking skills let you think about a scenario all the way through and envision possible outcomes and implications that follow a course of action. Building critical thinking is lifelong.
Practical thinking is taking information and goals and organizing them so that things are actually accomplished. Great ideas don’t mean much if they’re never put into action, and the practical thinker isn’t afraid to do that.
Translating ideas and concepts into real-world applications is the strength of the practical thinker, and the best practical thinkers are constantly innovating.
Inspirational thinking is used by authentic leaders to inspire team members to be their best and reach their goals. It inspires “self-leadership” and depends on trust in team members’ abilities and motivations.
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The inspirational leader can accomplish more than a leader who simply barks orders and expects them to be fulfilled. It’s about bringing out the talents of all contributors.
Integrative thinkers see patterns and connections among abstractions and can create a coherent vision of a situation or a challenge.
Integrative thinkers are hungry for learning across many subjects and understand that they are never “finished” learning. Integrative thinking is innovative and is a thought style that sets exceptional leaders apart from the rest.
The imaginative thinker is adept at creating something brand new from first principles. Leaders with a predisposition to imaginative thinking can see possibilities and opportunities that might not be evident to others.
When bolstered by strong critical and practical thinking on a team, the imaginative leader can innovate, disrupt, and potentially change the game for everyone.
The intuitive thinker has learned when to listen to his or her gut instinct. Intuitive thinking must be grounded by strong critical thinking skills, and when it is, the results can be astounding.
An intuitive thinker, who makes it a point to stay informed via history, data, and other facts, knows when to make a counter-intuitive decision, and when it works, results can be amazing.
While the concept of authenticity could be distorted to mean remaining true to one’s own demands regardless of the needs of others, this is ultimately self-defeating.
Authenticity presupposes the demands of others and the“real world” and involves maintaining ties to collective “big questions” of worth that cause us to look beyond our own preferences. In fact, recognizing authenticity requires that we recognize others and their needs and points of view, whether those “others” are team members, customers, or society at large.
Authenticity is what makes you “you”, and it sometimes involves holding up to the light those parts of ourselves we would rather not recognize.
The authentic leader isn’t a completely different person in the copy room from the person leading the team in a project kickoff session. Authenticity is an integrated whole, an acceptance, and a development of the characteristics that are engraved in us.
By cultivating authenticity, we not only stay true to our most deeply held values, but are able to get back on track when immature attitudes or actions derail us.
ManageMagazine would like to express our thanks to John Mattone as well as Jonathan Løw and Content Publishing for generously sharing knowledge with ManageMagazine readers. You can find more interesting articles in the book SECRET NO MORE.