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On Saturday, I had the honour of receiving the Authentic Leadership Award. As I sat in the train and made my journey back home, I reflected on what it meant for me. As I reflected on my leadership, three words came to my heart: searching, service and sacrifice.
As a researcher, my work involves a lot of searching for people and information to create knowledge. This searching assumes that I know what I am looking for otherwise I would be lost in the sea of approximately 7.4 billion people and all the information there is out there. You might be asking, what has this to do with leadership? For me, this means authentic leaders are people who are searching. As they search, they bring people together and create communities of people who share the same vision. These people are closely knit together with bonds that allow them to live life to the full. Writing the book ‘Les Brown Changed Our Lives’ has allowed me create a community of 77 people who share a common vision and are ready to inspire others to live their dreams. In essence, an authentic leader is someone who searches with insight and assembles a community that becomes a vehicle of hope in the world.
Service is another word that came to me as I thought about authentic leadership. It reminded me of the 16th century mystic St Teresa of Avila who wrote, ‘ Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world’. We live in a world where there is a severe shortage of compassion, goodness, and hope. Unborn human being are being killed because of the lack of compassion. Living human beings are dying because of the shortage of goodness and hope. Effectively, an authentic leader needs to live a life of service so that they are used by life to create more good, show compassion and help people increase the size of their hope.
An authentic leader lives his or her life as a sacrifice. There is no greater way of being an authentic leader than living your life for others. An authentic leader accepts to be used by others as a pencil to help them write new chapters with their lives. This entails living a life that is characterised by deep love and care for the other. This is authentic leadership for me: searching, service and sacrifice. For more information or questions, email me at

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