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  • Susan Smudde

Authentic leadership

In this article we share our view on authentic leadership. Athentic leadership is key to create positive, thriving organizations that could achieve long term success. In fact, it is the way to create a better company, and a better world.


Bill George's interest in authentic leadership stems from his own experiences in the business world. As a former CEO of Medtronic and a professor at Harvard Business School, he saw firsthand the negative impact of inauthentic leadership on organizations and employees. He observed that leaders who were disconnected from their values, and focused only on short-term results, often led to toxic work environments, low employee engagement, and poor performance. George believed that authentic leadership, grounded in values, empathy, and relationships, was the key to creating positive, thriving organizations that could achieve long-term success. Essentially, he saw authentic leadership as a way to create a better world, one company at a time!


The Authentic Leadership Model proposed by Bill George has five key dimensions:

·      Purpose: Knowing your values, strengths, and weaknesses, and having a clear sense of why you're leading.

·      Values: Acting in alignment with your values and principles.

·      Heart: Leading with empathy, compassion, and a genuine concern for others.

·      Relationships: Building strong, trusting relationships with colleagues, and fostering collaboration.

·      Self-Discipline: Maintaining self-control and holding yourself accountable for your actions.

This model emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, integrity, and relationships in effective leadership. The idea is that leaders who are authentic, sincere, and genuine are more likely to inspire and motivate their teams, and achieve greater success.


Self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-regulation are essential for authentic leadership.

·      Self-reflection helps leaders to understand their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and values. He encourages leaders to regularly take time for introspection and self-assessment to understand what drives them, and to identify areas for growth.

·      Self-awareness: Bill George sees self-awareness as the ability to understand one's own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and how they impact others. He believes that self-awareness is the foundation for authentic leadership, as it allows leaders to understand their impact on others and adjust their behavior accordingly.

·      Self-regulation: Bill George sees self-regulation as the ability to control one's emotions and behavior in order to stay aligned with one's values and purpose.


Bill George believes that self-regulation is an important part of authentic leadership, as it allows leaders to maintain emotional control, stay calm under pressure, and make rational decisions. He also emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and self-awareness in self-regulation, as they allow leaders to understand their own emotions and motivations, and make adjustments when necessary. In fact, he even wrote a whole book on the subject called "Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value." It's basically a masterclass in self-regulation for leaders!


Bill George sees self-regulation as a skill that underpins all five elements of authentic leadership, but specifically it relates most closely to the self-discipline element. Here's the breakdown:

Purpose: Knowing your values and purpose requires self-reflection, which is a form of self-regulation.

Values: Living in alignment with your values requires the ability to regulate your emotions and behavior to stay true to those values.

Heart: Empathy and compassion require self-regulation to maintain balance and avoid burnout.

Relationships: Building strong relationships requires the ability to regulate emotions and communication to foster trust and mutual respect.

Self-discipline: This one is obvious - self-regulation is key to staying disciplined and focused on goals!


Here are a few key ways leaders can increase their self-awareness:

·      Seeking feedback from others: Asking for honest feedback from peers, subordinates, and even clients can help identify blind spots and strengths.

·      Engaging in regular self-reflection: Setting aside time to reflect on successes, failures, and emotions can reveal patterns and areas for improvement.

·      Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness practices like meditation can improve self-awareness by helping leaders stay present and aware of their emotions and reactions in real-time.

·      Journaling: Writing down thoughts and feelings can help leaders gain clarity and understanding about themselves and their behavior.

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