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As a leader should I reflect my authentic self or become more aspirational and visionary when writing?

In today’s rapidly evolving business environment, it can be challenging for leaders to decide how to present themselves to their teams and stakeholders. One question that often arises when I give leadership coaching sessions, is whether to reflect their authentic selves or to become more aspirational and visionary when writing.

In this article, we will explore this topic in-depth from the angle of a leadership coach.

 

Authenticity vs. Aspiration: Understanding the Dichotomy

 Before we delve into the specifics of whether to reflect on your authentic self or become more aspirational and visionary in your writing, it’s important to understand the dichotomy between the two approaches.

Authenticity refers to being true to oneself and one’s values. Authentic leaders are honest, transparent, and genuine in their interactions with others. They lead with integrity, consistency, and vulnerability, creating a safe and supportive environment for their teams to thrive.

Aspiration, on the other hand, refers to setting ambitious goals and striving towards a higher purpose. Aspirational leaders inspire and motivate their teams to achieve greatness and create positive change in the world. They are visionaries, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible and encouraging others to do the same.

While authenticity and aspiration may seem like opposing approaches, they can coexist and complement each other. Authentic leaders can also be aspirational, and aspirational leaders can also be authentic. It’s not an either-or proposition but rather a matter of balance and context.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

 – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

When to Reflect Your Authentic Self

 Reflecting on your authentic self can be a powerful tool for leadership, especially in situations that require trust, empathy, and connection. Here are some scenarios where authenticity can be particularly effective:

Building Trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, including those between leaders and their teams. When leaders are authentic, they show their human side, acknowledging their flaws and vulnerabilities. This vulnerability creates a sense of connection and trust between leaders and their teams, allowing for more open and honest communication.

Resolving Conflicts

Conflicts are a natural part of any team dynamic. However, resolving them can be challenging, especially when emotions run high. Authentic leaders can defuse tensions and facilitate productive conversations by being empathetic, non-judgmental, and transparent. By sharing their own experiences and perspectives, they can create a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

Fostering Inclusivity

Inclusivity is critical in today’s diverse and complex workplace. Authentic leaders can create a sense of belonging by valuing and respecting the differences of their team members. They can also lead by example, modeling inclusive behaviors and challenging biases and stereotypes.

Communicating Change

Change can be unsettling for employees, especially when it comes from the top. Authentic leaders can ease the transition by communicating transparently and honestly about the reasons for the change, the impact on employees, and the desired outcomes. By acknowledging the challenges and uncertainties, they can build trust and create a sense of shared purpose.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

When to Be More Aspirational and Visionary

 While authenticity can be a powerful tool for leadership, there are times when leaders need to be more aspirational and visionary. Here are some scenarios where aspiration can be particularly effective:

Setting Direction

Leaders need to set a clear direction for their teams and organizations. By articulating a compelling vision and mission, they can inspire their teams to work towards a shared goal. Aspirational leaders can paint a vivid picture of the future, highlighting the benefits and opportunities that come with achieving their goals.

Motivating Teams

Motivation is critical for achieving goals and driving performance. Aspirational leaders can inspire their teams by setting ambitious targets, recognizing and rewarding successes, and creating a sense of purpose and meaning. By tapping into their teams’ intrinsic motivations, they can unleash their full potential.

Driving Innovation

Innovation is essential for staying ahead in today’s competitive business landscape. Aspirational leaders can encourage their teams to think outside the box, experiment with new ideas, and take calculated risks. By creating a culture of innovation and creativity, they can foster a continuous improvement mindset and drive growth and progress.

Leading Change

Change is inevitable in today’s business world, and leaders need to be able to adapt quickly and effectively. Aspirational leaders can inspire their teams to embrace change by communicating a compelling vision of the future, highlighting the benefits of change, and providing the necessary resources and support. By leading by example and staying focused on the big picture, they can overcome resistance and drive successful change initiatives.

“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet

– thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently.

This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.”

– Lance Secretan

 

Authenticity and Aspiration

While authenticity and aspiration may seem like opposing approaches, they can be integrated and balanced to create a powerful leadership style. Here are some strategies for balancing authenticity and aspiration:

Know Your Values

Authenticity starts with knowing your values and leading with integrity. Aspirational leaders need to understand their values as well, as these values will guide their vision and goals. By aligning their authentic selves with their aspirations, leaders can create a powerful and compelling leadership style.

Be Transparent and Vulnerable

Authenticity requires transparency and vulnerability, which can build trust and create a safe and supportive environment for employees. Aspirational leaders can also benefit from being transparent and vulnerable, as this can help them connect with their teams and inspire them to achieve greatness.

Communicate with Empathy

Empathy is critical for both authenticity and aspiration. Leaders need to understand their employees’ perspectives and needs and communicate with empathy and compassion. By listening actively and showing empathy, leaders can create a sense of belonging and motivate their teams to achieve their goals.

Set Clear Expectations

Aspirational leaders need to set clear expectations and goals and communicate them effectively to their teams. Authentic leaders can help reinforce these expectations by modeling the desired behaviors and values. By setting clear expectations and leading by example, leaders can create a culture of excellence and achievement.

Celebrate Successes

Both authenticity and aspiration require celebrating successes and recognizing achievements. Authentic leaders can acknowledge their employees’ hard work and contributions, while aspirational leaders can inspire their teams by recognizing their achievements and setting new goals. By celebrating successes, leaders can reinforce the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”

 – John Wooden

 

Balancing authenticity and aspiration and developing a powerful leadership style

A leadership coach can play a critical role in helping leaders balance authenticity and aspiration and develop a powerful leadership style. Here are some ways in which a leadership coach can help:

Self-Awareness

A leadership coach can help leaders develop self-awareness by identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. By understanding their leadership style and their impact on others, leaders can become more authentic and effective in their communication and decision-making.

Goal-Setting

A leadership coach can help leaders set clear and actionable goals that align with their values and vision. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps, leaders can stay focused and motivated, and inspire their teams to do the same.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is critical for both authenticity and aspiration. A leadership coach can help leaders develop strong communication skills, including active listening, empathy, and clarity. By communicating with authenticity and clarity, leaders can build trust and inspire their teams to achieve their goals.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is inevitable in any organization, but it can be managed effectively with the right skills and strategies. A leadership coach can help leaders develop conflict-resolution skills, including active listening, empathy, and negotiation. By resolving conflicts effectively, leaders can foster a positive and productive work environment.

Team Development

A leadership coach can help leaders develop their teams by identifying and addressing performance gaps, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, and promoting teamwork and collaboration. By developing their teams, leaders can achieve their goals more effectively and create a more positive work environment.

Accountability

A leadership coach can help leaders stay accountable to their goals and commitments. By setting clear expectations and providing ongoing support and feedback, leaders can stay on track and achieve their goals more effectively.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is critical for effective leadership, and a leadership coach can help leaders develop their emotional intelligence skills, including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. By developing emotional intelligence, leaders can understand their own emotions and those of others, communicate more effectively, manage conflicts more successfully, and inspire their teams to achieve greatness.

Mindset Shifts

A leadership coach can help leaders shift their mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. By adopting a growth mindset, leaders can embrace challenges, learn from failures, and see opportunities for growth and development. This mindset can inspire their teams to adopt a growth mindset as well, creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Personal Branding

Personal branding is an essential aspect of effective leadership, and a leadership coach can help leaders develop their personal brand. By identifying their unique strengths and values and communicating them effectively to their teams and stakeholders, leaders can build a strong reputation and influence others more effectively.

Vision and Strategy

A leadership coach can help leaders develop a clear and compelling vision for the future and a strategic plan to achieve it. By aligning their vision with their values and goals and communicating it effectively to their teams, leaders can inspire their teams to achieve greatness and create a sense of purpose and direction.

Executive Presence

Executive presence refers to the qualities that inspire trust and confidence in others, including confidence, competence, and authenticity. A leadership coach can help leaders develop executive presence by identifying their strengths and areas for improvement and providing ongoing support and feedback.

Career Development

A leadership coach can help leaders plan and navigate their career development path. By identifying their long-term career goals and the skills and experiences they need to achieve them, leaders can stay focused and motivated and achieve greater success and fulfillment in their careers.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether to reflect on your authentic self or become more aspirational and visionary in your writing depends on the context and the goals you are trying to achieve. Authenticity can be powerful in building trust, resolving conflicts, fostering inclusivity, and communicating change. Aspiration, on the other hand, can be effective in setting direction, motivating teams, driving innovation, and leading change.

By balancing authenticity and aspiration, leaders can create a powerful and compelling leadership style that inspires their teams to achieve greatness. And a leadership coach can provide valuable support and guidance to leaders who want to balance authenticity and aspiration and develop a powerful and effective leadership style.

 

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We are a young, vibrant, and diverse executive career coaching group, with the operation registered in 2019, however, the formation was a 45-year career lifetime in preparation. During that period our founder Wayne Brown observed and worked with leaders of all levels in organizations across industries and cultures globally.

Based on that exposure, our company has intentionally set out to support those practicing the art and science of leadership – or as often referred to, “Executive Talent.” These are people who acknowledge that they are not experts. They are open to opportunities for continued growth and carry the desire for learning what is needed to become a success in today’s complexity and uncertainty.

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