Here are the barriers to authentic leadership

These four factors can sabotage even the best bosses

Authentic leadership walks hand-in-hand with well-developed emotional intelligence and collaborative communication, grounded in honesty, humility and integrity.

You can spot authentic leaders by their ability to manage effectively their own emotions and the emotions of others as they create a container of psychological safety and engagement fueled by consistent sincerity and respect for all concerned.

Impulse control is a key attribute of the top authentic leaders of our era. The ability to stand outside of drama and access solution-based thinking for the good of all concerned is an attribute of highly developed authentic leaders.

Authentic leadership is a space that many leaders desire to occupy, but the following "four P's" pollute and sabotage even the best efforts to step into this highly respected position:

Position over People: The pursuit of position over people may catapult you to the top yet leave you very lonely once you get there. Any time you have an attachment to a specific position in life to feel important, valued or enough just as you are, you render yourself vulnerable to an emotional state of clinging due to the belief that without a specific position of authority you can’t feel successful.

In this impoverished view of reality you become vulnerable to animal planet behavior (ugly behavior); overlooking people in order to achieve your personal goal. As an advanced cancer conqueror, when facing the possibility of my own pending death, I remember reflecting on moments in my life when I put things above people.

To this day I will do a self-inventory check when I have a specific position goal in this world and weed out any motives which do not honor the highest good of all concerned: people over position.

Power: The use of power over other people to achieve one’s personal goals is weakness disguised as strength. Bullying behavior will quickly take the main stage in leadership positions when it is not tempered by gratitude and humility. Power over others is a wicked little serpent, which too often overrides the best version of who you desire to be, thereby stripping you of respect and admiration.

As I was training for my second-degree black belt, I practiced keeping my head in the game by offering honor to my opponent in the ring so as not to lose my mental focus and keep clarity around technique for success. At the Colorado State Championship, I was knocked out. As I came to I remember feeling a heat of anger rushing through my body that my opponent had used an illegal move.

I stood up before the countdown was complete and went after her with a vengeance. I ended up winning the silver medal yet was told by my 8th degree black belt Master Trainer that in his eyes, I lost ― because I unleashed anger and power over humility and technique.

Popularity: The need to be right, liked and understood quickly dilutes leadership efficacy. A large part of authenticity is the ability to speak the truth in love, with respect, maintaining the ability to honor the person over the behavior. Too often, the desire to be popular will lead to a mismatch of employee-position, which does not honor all concerned; rather, it acts as a small drop of ink in a glass of pure water.

This form of attachment leads to the drug of approval and will take down an entire team. How many of your actions as a leader are fueled by a desire to be liked? Right? Understood? 

Authentic leaders will seek the good of all concerned over the desire to be liked; right and understood. Practice listening to understand rather than to be understood; this simple technique allows you to access pieces of information that are vital for solution and success. Your ability to remain grounded in your mission, as an authentic, effective leader, will be in direct proportion to your ability to stand outside of compliments and complaints.

Possessions: Studies have revealed that the corner offices are often filled with excessive testosterone depleting oxytocin (the bonding hormone), thereby diluting the ability to create and maintain positive authentic relationships. Ego tends to jump in the driver’s seat, along with the pursuit of those things that represent “making it big.”

Possessions too often blind human beings of what brings true and lasting happiness in life: meaningful relationships. When leadership is fueled by motives for more “stuff” in life the condition of “not enoughness” tends to override good judgment and the ability to maintain two attributes of authentic leadership: humility and integrity. The pursuit of possessions often leads to putting things before people and invites the temptation of boasting.

Authentic leaders have mastered the ability to guide others back to themselves and their fullest potential on earth. Matching talent with position, authentic leaders ignite engagement of their people through the practice of high noticing around individual’s need for achievement and inspiring creativity and clarity of focus. When interior priorities are clear, decisions are easy and admiration and respect follow close behind.

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