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Authentic leadership is like being naked at work.. special guest Danessa Knaupp.

Courage isn’t something we talk about enough in leadership. We talk about it in big sweeping movements. The great leaders are brave in small ways everyday and that courage becomes really important. Everyone who has thought something in their head but not said it in a meeting or taken a deep breath and said it knows what that feels like. It’s a cross between listening to your inner self or you listen to all the noise and chatter around you and try to fill others’ expectations. Being your true self is the key. That’s the real authenticity.

Sometimes leaders need to be grounded with their own internal compass. In academic studies on authenticity one of the characteristics measured is a defined internal moral perspective. There’s another side of that which is being open to new information. So, leaders are in this constant balancing act between staying true to themselves but open to new information to allow that to influence or to enable them to think of their position and consider if the opinion is still valid for them.

This comes back to one’s values. As long as the data or information aligns to one’s values then that’s on the right track. It’s when it’s not that’s when one starts compromising. We don’t spend a lot of time on our values. Yet by understanding the power of one value verses another we get to understand how often it drives your choice. Being aware of the importance of one values and how they relate to each other is critically important. This is the power of introspection. It allows you to choose what’s really an important value that drives decision making.

Values underpin what one does as a leader and one needs to connect with that regularly. It’s part of reflecting on oneself. Doing this daily helps. For example, undertaking a pause practice– 5 minutes a day for 5 days– the objective is to physically feel what a pause feels like. That one is not uncomfortable doing it and feeling it. Unless one is comfortable with a pause, the habits continue to drive action out of reflex. Taking a pause helps one get comfortable with waiting to understand the bigger picture.

In this current global pandemic scenario, its worth understanding what leaders are fighting for. Is it maintenance? Or seeking a return to normalcy or looking at the situation and going what can one contribute through one’s unique skills, product or service to this new and changed world? This where the pause practice can make a big difference. If we are trying to return to an equilibrium that’s gone that is a lot of energy going into trying to go back to something we’re not going to have. Taking a pause allows one to actually sit and think through what it means and what one would be doing and then explore what’s possible.

It’s about consistency and knowing or choosing where to spend one’s energy on. It’s about staying true to yourself. When this realisation happens there’s a sense of liberation or being free that comes within.

There’s also the situation where many a leader is not aware of what his or her real self is or they are not sure if their self is well suited for what they are doing. It comes down to knowing how to choose the best version of oneself, based on strengths and opportunities, to move forward. This is possible because as individuals we get to choose the facts of who we are. That’s immutable. Leaving aside our physical facts of height, weight etc who we are is based on the choices we make.

By having an alignment between our soul and what truly makes us happy we get to choose how we position ourselves and project ourselves. 

For more about her book ‘Get Naked at Work’ you can contact Danessa at

About the author, Ross

Behavioural leadership coach committed to bringing more soul into business and reducing a leader's stress in managing their people

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