The most difficult question to ask any leader, executive or CEO, is: Why would anyone want to be led by you?

When coaching leaders, this question presents a priceless opportunity for the leader to unpack what this might look like for them.

Many conversations with direct reports unanimously pointed to authentic leadership. Simply explained, authentic leadership is the ability to be vulnerable enough to be yourself, BUT with great skill. Authentic leaders are those leaders who show up and communicate naturally.

HBR 10 must reads on leadership affirm that the greatest advice ever given to executives is to be authentic. The writers discovered that inspirational leaders share four crucial qualities:

  • They selectively show their weaknesses – they show some vulnerability, which reveals their approachability and humanity.
  • They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of their actions – they have an acute ability to collect and interpret information to enable them to act timely and appropriately.
  • They manage employees with tough empathy – they empathize realistically.
  • They reveal their differences – they capitalize on what’s unique about themselves.