10 Tips for Becoming an Authentic Leader

desert leader
Photo by Hamed Saber

Yesterday, Michael Hyatt published The Five Marks of Authentic Leadership on his blog. In a blog full of powerful content, this is one of his most incisive posts. Please, go read it. Then check out these ten tips for kneading the five qualities into your leadership.


1. Listen First. Develop the discipline of listening. Listen to people, listen to situations, listen “between the lines.” Listen before you act, speak, or decide. Listen for opportunities. Listen for reasons to be thankful. Listen to serve others.

2. Live & Learn. Live life; don’t be afraid to fail – no matter how old you are. The moment you stop learning you stop growing, and when you stop growing you start dying. Stay humble enough to learn and grow and give.


3. Ask Questions. What needs to be done right now? How can we do this better? Where is the opportunity today? How can I (or we) help? Have the courage to ask the tough questions – then take the answers personally. If you ask the question, take responsibility for the answer.

4. Act Now. If your insight shows you what must be done, you have a responsibility to do it or see that it gets done. Don’t wait to understand – choose action and understanding will follow (see #2). As Ronald Reagan said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”


5. Focus on Others. Your natural instinct is to focus on and take care of yourself. Resist that urge. Put others first and they will respond to you. Genuinely care for them.  All your insight and initiative is lost if you aren’t pouring it generously into other people.

6. Stoke your Passion. The best way to inspire someone to action, is to be inspired yourself. So find your personal positive passion and surrender to it. The more you give in to your passion, the more others will catch it.


7. Develop People. To achieve positive, long-lasting change, it’s not enough to change systems or brands or directions – you’ve got to change people. Focus on changing hearts and minds, moving them upward and onward – both professionally and personally.

8. Measure Results. Insight, initiative and influence are all good, but they’re all for naught unless you’re making a real difference. Create objective metrics that will give you an honest view of how successful you are as a leader.


9. Ground Yourself. Make sure your impact is worthwhile by putting first things first. When you do this, everything else falls into right perspective. Build your life – and therefore your leadership – on indestructible values.

10. Be Honest. I’m not just talking about telling the truth. Be honest about who you are. When your life is fully integrated you are free to be the same person no matter where you are, who you’re with or what you’re doing. That’s true freedom.

Which of these tips was the most useful for you? What’s missing from this list?

13 thoughts on “10 Tips for Becoming an Authentic Leader”

  1. Fantastic post! My favorite line…okay I have too many to pick just one. Thank you for posting these. I have shared this with our entire staff.

  2. Geoff – I just read Hyatt’s blog, then came over to yours – a very nice supplement, indeed! I especially appreciate your point about “Acting now.” This would go along with your other point of not being afraid to live and learn, that the key to getting anything accomplished in life is that sometimes we have to step out and just do something, even if we don’t have it all figured out yet. The action creates momentum, and usually leads us to the next step, etc. It’s an iterative process, and all the answers are never before us all at once. This has been one of the most important lessons I have found in my career.

    1. I agree. In school we get the idea in our heads that understanding should come before action. There is something to be said for looking before you leap, but there’s an understanding that eludes us until we actually step out and do something.

      It’s the difference between reading about how to drive a stick-shift and actually doing it – and knowing you (and the car) will survive all the jerks and stalls!

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