Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Great Article on “Authentic Leadership”

Just as often as writing unique articles for this blog, I like to pass along interesting things from other folks. For any of you that know me, you know I am a voracious reader – and proud collector of OPI (other people’s ideas). Why re-invent the wheel, when some incredibly smart person has already perfected it and you can download it for free from the Internet? So here is a super article I found on Authentic Leadership. Hope you enjoy…

10 Things Authentic Leaders Do: By Robin Sharma

What would your life look like if you had absolutely no fear? What kinds of things would you do if you lived from a frame of reference that your thoughts literally could form your world? How brightly would your light shine if you stepped out of the limitations that are keeping you small, and stretched yourself well past your comfort zone into the place that you know, deep within, you are meant to be? Authentic leadership is all about being the person you know in your heart you have always been destined to be. Authentic leadership does not come from your title or from the size of your paycheck. Instead, this form of leadership comes from your being and the person that you are.


Here are 10 things that authentic leaders do on a regular basis:

1. They speak their truth. In business today, we frequently ‘swallow our truth’. We say things to please others and to look good in front of The Crowd. Authentic leaders are different. They consistently talk truth. They would never betray themselves by using words that are not aligned with who they are. This does not give anyone a license to say things that are hurtful to people. Speaking truth is simply about being clear, being honest, and being authentic.

2. They lead from the heart. Business is about people. Leadership is about people. The best leaders wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to show their vulnerability. They genuinely care about other people and spend their days developing the people around them. They are like the sun: the sun gives away all it has to the plants and the trees. But in return, the plants and the trees always grow toward the sun.

3. They have rich moral fiber. Who you are speaks far more loudly than anything you could ever say. Strength of character is true power — and people can feel it a mile away. Authentic leaders work on their character. They walk their talk and are aligned with their core values. They are noble and good. And in doing so, people trust, respect, and listen to them.

4. They are courageous. It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you think is right even though it may not be easy. We live in a world where so many people walk the path of least resistance. Authentic leadership is all about taking the road less traveled and doing, not what is easy, but what is right.

5. They build teams and create communities. One of the primary things that people are looking for in their work experience is a sense of community. In the old days, we got our community from where we lived. We would have block parties and street picnics. In the new age of work, employees seek their sense of community and connection from the workplace. Authentic leaders create workplaces that foster human linkages and lasting friendships.

6. They deepen themselves. The job of the leader is to go deep. Authentic leaders know themselves intimately. They nurture a strong self-relationship. They know their weaknesses and play to their strengths. And they always spend a lot of time transcending their fears.

7. They are dreamers. Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It is from our imaginations that great things are born. Authentic leaders dare to dream impossible dreams. They see what everyone else sees and then dream up new possibilities. They spend a lot of time with their eyes closed creating blueprints and fantasies that lead to better products, better services, better workplaces, and deeper value. How often do you close your eyes and dream?

8. They care for themselves. Taking care of your physical dimension is a sign of self-respect. You can’t do great things at work if you don’t feel good. Authentic leaders eat well, exercise, and care for the temples that are their bodies. They spend time in nature, drink plenty of water, and get regular massages so that, physically, they are operating at planet-class levels of performance.

9. They commit to excellence rather than perfection. No human being is perfect. Every single one of us is a work in progress. Authentic leaders commit themselves to excellence in everything that they do. They are constantly pushing the envelope and raising their standards. They do not seek perfection and have the wisdom to know the difference. What would your life look like if you raised your standards well beyond what anyone could ever imagine of you?

10. They leave a legacy. To live in the hearts of the people around you is to never die. Success is wonderful, but significance is even better. You were made to contribute and to leave a mark on the people around you. In failing to live from this frame of reference, you betray yourself. Authentic leaders are constantly building their legacies by adding deep value to everyone that they deal with and leaving the world a better place in the process.

*** Note from John Spence: I have been working in, on and around the topic of leadership for nearly 20 years now, and I think Robin really nailed it on this list.  He has hit many of the same key things I have been focusing on: Honesty, Collaboration, Courageous Communication, Passion, Values-based Leadership… this is a list worth reading several times and giving a good deal of serious thought to. 

And, as always, I challenge you to look at the list that Robin has presented and give yourself a brutally honest score of 1 -10 on each of his items.

10 = you are a living example of this — it describes you perfectly.

7 = you do this almost all of the time.

5 = 50/50, sometimes you behave this way – sometime you don’t.

3 = this describe you a little bit, every now and then, but this is not a typical behavior for you.

1= this isn’t you at all – you might wish it were, but the truth is – this is not the way you lead today. 

My recommendation? Anywhere you scored a 7 or less is a good place to start working.  Anything below a 4 means you need to get to work on that particular issue immediately.  Remember: be 100% honest with yourself!


About the Author:  Robin S. Sharma, LL.M., is a nationally known leadership speaker to major sales organizations. He is also president of Sharma Leadership International and the author of three motivational books, including the bestseller MegaLiving. He can be reached at



  1. John,

    I have been busy doing other things this weekend and did not think of blogging, but as I was reading your blog I noticed this interesting post.

    The post is so good that I decided to simply blog a short version of it.

    Thank you!

    Your soul mate from Tokyo

  2. Jim Trunick says:

    John, these are great lessons. I’ve talked with lots of audiences that have commented it’s hard to be authentic, when you are asked to be enthusiastic or cheerful, when you don’t have it in you. We’re told to ‘act’ as if, and pretend to be something we don’t feel, in the interest of the sale or the team

    I learned from a minister, that many times, he does not feel joyful, hopeful or inspired, and yet on Sunday morning he has a whole room of people anxious to be inspired or motivated. And he carries on – authentic to a higher goal, and knowing , that to act on his own selfishness may be true and accurate and honest – but only to himself, and not to others.

    As you and robin capture here, Authentic leadership is knowing your higher purpose to your teammates, company, faith or family, and acting on your own emotions at the time is selfish. Real authentic leadership as listed above captures the essence of real leadership….Its about others !!!!

  3. I appreciate this post. I intend to aspire to a much higher score. This is an Eye-opener for anyone in a position of leadership when they thought they just had to achieve the title to be the leader. A title does not make you a leader, but being true to yourself and others does.

  4. you shouuld begin a second blog, it’s great!