Self-Leadership: Know + Show Yourself

This is our third in a series of posts from the Book Rapper issue Authentic. It’s derived from Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones’ book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You that discusses what it takes to be an authentic leader. Previously in this series: Three Leadership Axioms


If leadership is a relationship then knowing yourself is important – and only half of the game. The other half is being in relationship with others. Here we explore these two aspects: being true to your origins and being socially authentic.

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True To Your Origins

Self-Leadership - part 1 - Know YourselfDiagnostic and psychometric tests to find out our strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes and personality attributes are useful and limited. We can always know ourselves at deeper and deeper levels. It’s an endless game. The solution is to know enough.

As a leader you will be pulled and pushed by others, And, without a strong anchor you’ll bobble around like a cork in the ocean. That anchor, that strength within, comes from being at ease with who you are and where you have come from.

To be at ease with your origins:

  • Seek out new experiences and new contexts – enhance your behavioural flexibility
  • Get honest feedback from different people who know you in different ways.
  • Explore your biography – view your life through multiple lenses.
  • Return to your roots and celebrate how your heritage has shaped you.
  • What are your defaults and who did you learn these from?

The more grounded you are the less effort it will take to be ‘authentic’ you.

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Socially Authentic

Self-Leadership - Part 2 - Show YourselfWe are always showing ourselves to those around us. This happens automatically. Your challenge is to more skilled at disclosing yourself, rather than trying to become someone else.

A lot of leadership books share the recipe for being Jack Welch, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Interesting and they’re not you!

Followers want to be lead by real people – not someone playing a role or trying to be like someone they’re not. They can only see you as real if you really express yourself.

  • Show others: who you are, what you stand and what you can and cannot do.
  • We have many sides to our character and personality. Just because you can be funny doesn’t make it appropriate to always be funny.
  • Equally, show your weaknesses and not all the time. Show enough.
  • Channel parts of you in different situations. Expand your expression.
  • Use your points of difference to stand out, be yourself and engage others.

The art of leadership is to communicate the right authentic slice of you in the right time and place.

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COMMENT: Rate yourself on your self-leadership… How well do you know yourself? And, how well do you show yourself?


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