Authenticity is the Only Personal Brand

The successful Freelance consultant is acknowledged as an expert and leader in his/her chosen field  by clients,  colleagues and competitors.  This Freelancer has superior skills that are accompanied by integrity;  s/he can be trusted to meet or even exceed expectations.  This individual commands respect because s/he is highly competent,  reliable and credible,  that is to say,  authentic.

Authentic is an adjective that’s thrown around a lot these days and perhaps suffers from overuse,  but I agree with leadership development specialists who assert that a truly effective leader is highly skilled,  trustworthy,  respectful,  communicates well and is unafraid to be him/herself.  A leader embraces the genuine self,  strives to develop and present  the best self and does not waste time trying to be someone else.  For those reasons,  leaders are often considered charismatic and they inspire great loyalty.

Les McKeown,  CEO of Predictable Success,   an adviser on organizational growth and author of  “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There” (2010),  has shared three phrases that will telegraph your authenticity and leadership ability to others.   At some future meeting,  it will make sense for a leader to make at least one of these statements:

I have nothing to add.”  The confident leader is not in love with the sound of his/her own voice and does not feel compelled to weigh in on every matter.  A leader intuits when everything that is relevant has been expressed,  respects the well-reasoned opinions of others and allows others to take center stage and shine every now and again.

I don’t understand what you mean by…..”  Authentic leaders admit knowledge gaps and ask for information that will clarify,  so that they can grasp the subject under discussion and promote good decision-making.  They are not driven by a need to appear  expert in all things.

I recommend that we…..”  A leader recognizes when it is time to make a decision,  whether or not all the facts are in hand.  Usually,  all the facts can never be in hand,  but a leader knows when we must move forward and either take advantage of an opportunity,   head off a crisis,  or cut losses.  An authentic leader takes responsibility to put resources and reputation on the line and make,  or advocate for,  a decision or action.

Role models can be inspiring and show us the way,  but at the end of the day we must be ourselves.  We must be willing to embrace what we believe in,  acknowledge our priorities and articulate our values and vision.  To do so takes confidence,  which is yet another attribute of a leader.   An authentic leader has no desire to present a false  “personal brand”  that may seem trendy at a given moment.  A real leader knows that authenticity is the only worthwhile personal brand and that its value is timeless.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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