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17th August 2012

Authentic leadership starts with authentic communication

How to Inspire

Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, Ginger founder and author of "How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking" shares her insights on how authentic leadership is an essential element of inspiring speaking.

For me and the work we do with our Ginger clients, public speaking is all about inspiring positive change in the world. It’s a form of authentic leadership. So what is authentic leadership and how can we learn to become authentic leaders when we stand up and speak? There are some important lessons to learn if you aspire to inspire...

 

In this article in the Leadership Quarterly Journal, Shamir & Eilam talk about four elements of authentic leadership. Let’s have a look at each and what it means for speakers:

1)     Authentic leaders lead from a conviction. They engage in leadership not only to live up to their full potential, but to make a positive impact on their world.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Speakers who connect with a bigger, more widely benefiting picture are the ones who have the greatest impact on their audiences. My belief is that to be a truly great speaker, we start with the motivation to find the most important cause we could stand up for – and use that as the fuel to overcome any doubt or difficulty we may have on the way.

2)     Rather than faking leadership just because they’ve been put in a position of authority, authentic leaders integrate leadership into their very being. The authentic leader is not just playing the role of a leader they are a leader.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Speakers can sometimes struggle to appreciate their own capacity to influence. That’s because we see our own nerves and self doubts from the inside (which is messy) – and we see everyone else’s confidence and great performance from the outside (which of course looks oh, so impressive). Whilst we separate ourselves from ‘those who can’, we won’t allow ourselves to shine as authentic, inspiring speakers.

To be an authentic leader in speaking, absorb the function of leadership into your speaking. Accept it – if you’re speaking, you’re trying to lead your audience somewhere better than they already are. That doesn’t mean you’re in it to boost your ego, that doesn’t mean you’re self promoting and that doesn’t mean you’re or being pushy. In fact if you start with your conviction in mind, quite the opposite effect will happen. If you are a truly authentic leader your impact will be ‘through you’ rather than ‘about you’.

3)     Authentic leaders are originals, not copies. They hold their values  & views to be true not because they are socially or politically acceptable, but because they have gone through a process of self-reflection and have proven their convictions to themselves.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Inspiring Speakers are also not carbon copies of what’s worked for another speaker. In developing yourself as a speaker, ask yourself what you truly believe in and why. If what you believe in doesn’t fit in with what others believe, it doesn’t matter. Find your strength of conviction that would stand up to even the toughest of criticism, or the strongest amount of ridicule.

When you’ve found that solid place of self-belief, you will become a speaker who has the power to move other people to change their minds. By going through this process you will also become a speaker who has a unique and compelling way of relating to your material; even if hundreds of other people speak on the same topic as you.

4)     The actions of authentic leaders are based on their values and convictions. What they say and do is the same. As such they may are characterized as having high levels of integrity and transparency.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Once you’ve discovered what you really believe and what you really care enough to speak about, the challenge is to become your message. An inspiring speaker doesn’t say a few strong words against about animal cruelty and then step of stage and kick a cat. No, the authentic speaker’s words and actions are the same thing. Like Gandhi, our challenge is to integrate everything we do, say, think and learn and align it with our message.

From there comes deep the personal satisfaction associated with the feeling that you’re doing the right thing. And, critically, your ability to influence and inspire an audience is vastly improved.

 

Authentic leadership is an essential mindset for any inspiring speaker. It’s a challenge to find your true convictions, but once you have dug deep, authentic leadership and authentic communication bring big rewards.

 

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