Leading from Within: Why Leaders Need More than Just Tools & Techniques

While I certainly acknowledge the value of tools, techniques, and methods, and even teach them myself, I hold a stronger belief in values like authenticity, honesty, and wholeheartedness. In discussions about leading from within, these are the values I aspire to, and encourage others to cultivate.

My approach has been shaped by several authors whom I deeply admire, including Parker J. Palmer, Jesper Juul, Brad Blanton, and Pema Chodron. Their teachings have influenced the way I think, act, and strive to live my life.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing inherently wrong with utilizing tools and methods. They can indeed help us to express these values. However, they are not the ultimate goal, but rather small components of a much larger narrative if we aim to become genuine and authentic leaders—the heroes of our own lives, as I like to put it.

Decoding Authenticity: The Core of ‘Leading from Within’

I understand that these values might sound vague to many. There is considerable discussion about being authentic, but what exactly does it mean?

For me, the first step is self-awareness. I once thought of myself as highly authentic. I knew what I liked about myself and was confident in who I was. Various tools and techniques helped me understand my feelings and thoughts better, manage them effectively, and become more resilient and self-assured. At the time, I equated authenticity with confidence. However, over time, I realized that there was more to it.

I discovered that I had been denying my own imperfections, refusing to acknowledge that I was an imperfect human being. I don’t mean to suggest that one should simply state, “This is a flaw of mine; accept it or not, this is who I am.” Rather, I propose embracing the possibility that we are all imperfect, and that these imperfections can actually help us form better connections and relationships with others who are equally imperfect.

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This realization was, and continues to be, a refreshing departure from the idealized, narcissistic representations of perfection so prevalent today. I am flawed in many ways, and the thought of letting others see me as I truly am—an imperfect individual who doesn’t always have everything together—can be quite scary.

But to completely and honestly embrace who I am—to own my mistakes, negative thoughts, and difficult feelings, and to stand by them without hiding behind perfect roles or idealized versions of myself—is both inspiring and courageous. Taking full responsibility for my imperfections, without hiding behind my title or role, is a leadership journey that I am ready to embark upon.

At this point in my life and career, I stand at a crossroads. It’s the first time I’ve seriously contemplated topics related to leadership, as I am in the midst of sorting out both my personal and professional life (which I don’t believe should be seen separately). As a result, I’ll be sharing more insights from the teachings of Parker J. Palmer and the Radical Honesty approach, and discussing how they are shaping me into not necessarily a “better” human being—that’s not the right word—but a more authentic, real person for myself and for the world.

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Final words from Vesna

In conclusion, authentic leadership requires more than just tools and techniques—it demands an honest embrace of our imperfections and a commitment to self-awareness. As I navigate the intersection of my personal and professional life, these principles continue to shape me into a more authentic individual.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you view the role of authenticity in leadership? I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments or share this post to continue the conversation.

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