Many of our clients come to us believing that there is a perfect way to be a leader – that there are specific things they’re supposed to do and specific ways they are supposed to be in order to be a good leader. They somehow believe that leadership is a “one size fits all” endeavor, and they have to conform to what they’ve labeled as “right.”

The three tenets of Thoughtful Leadership are to be present, to be intentional, and to be authentic. Even though there are best practices around leadership and specific management and leadership skills, there is no one “right” way to lead or to approach a situation or a person. Authenticity requires that we each find our own “right” ways to show up and to lead.

I came upon this TED talk recently – Embrace your raw, strange magic. Author Casey Gerald talks about how much he hid parts of himself in order to fit in and be accepted. He shares how that certainly didn’t set him up to be most successful and happy, and, in many ways, it set him up to not be his best self and to not do his best. He encourages us all to live in the raw, strange magic of ourselves.

So many of us somehow believe we have to hide parts of ourselves or bring only portions of who we are and what matters to us to our work. When we do that we limit how much we can authentically engage with our work and others, and also how much impact we can have. As Casey Gerald points out, we conform to rules that may exist – or that may exist only in our minds – and this restricts how much of ourselves we bring to our work and how much of ourselves we share with others. Again, this can limit the impact we can have, not to mention the joy and fulfillment we can feel.

As many of you know, my memoir, to the moon and back, was published last September. While I have always done my best to be authentic and to bring my whole self to my coaching and consulting work, now that my entire story is public, I am able to be even more authentic. I don’t have to hide – or simply avoid explaining – where I’ve learned the lessons I’ve learned and how I’ve compiled the resources I’ve compiled. Now I can reference my background – where appropriate and helpful – and now I can simply be even more of myself. It is freeing. It is fun. And even though it is sometimes a bit terrifying, I believe it’s offering even more to clients.

There is no perfect way to be a leader. There is no one right way to be and to lead. What matters is that we find the ways to be ourselves – to be authentic and to embrace our raw, strange magic – and to lead from that place.

How have you become even more authentic in your leadership? What have you learned?
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