Authentic Leadership: What does it really mean?

Tess Cope - Authentic LEadership

When we talk about authentic leadership, what does it actually mean? Is it being clear about your purpose, vision and core values, and living day-by-day and moment-to-moment in a way that’s truly aligned to these – even when it’s really challenging and tough decision have to be made? That’s how I’ve come to see it and I always work with this insight and with the clients I’m working with.

Speak your Truth

That doesn’t mean authentic leadership is an easy journey – sometimes speaking the truth can disappoint, upset, frustrate and potentially mean others feel their own perspective and truth is being challenged in the process. Their point of view could have been developed after many difficult moments, maybe even years, and they could be absolutely convinced their way is the right way and I totally respect that.

My clarity and congruency has emerged over years of personal development, reflection, integration of the various aspects of myself, provocation from trusted sources and being ‘held’ in the discovery process. Over time, I’ve realised it’s important to sometimes respectfully leave behind the ways of working that are no longer required or serving me.

Sometimes ‘being held’ in the process of discovering my authentic self, has come from a coach/mentor (and I’ve been blessed to have a few in my life), my partner – and sometimes simply by my unconscious niggling me in the middle of the night.

It’s not always easy

My hope and intention is to be clear, clean and congruent in as many situations as I can. I realise that, sometimes, when I offer my opinions, it can cause a dramatic reaction in others, so it requires a balance of clarity, forthrightness and care.

My intention is never to hurt, offend, or challenge for the sake of it. After any exchange, I want to be able to answer: ‘Did I do/say the right thing in line with who I am, and for what I stand for/believe in, in a way that enables both people to have the space to be true to who they are?’ If the answer is yes – I’m moving in the right direction.

Give and take

One of my own learning curves has taught me I can sometimes hold back my truth. This is especially necessary where I don’t think there’s any point as the other person isn’t ready to hear it, or even acknowledge it. I also hold back if I think it will create an eruption. Then I have been lost in the exchange – where is my truth and authentic self, then?

If I’m being authentic to myself, I need to speak my truth – to bring my whole self to the table and conversation and at the same time, give them space for theirs. A mutual exchange of give and take is vital, for a healthy and sustainable relationship of any kind. This is also true in authentic leadership.

If you’d value some help to discover your authentic self so you can fully step into your own authentic leadership, please do get in touch.

Find your voice


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