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The Titanic Need for Authentic Leaders

How do you exercise authority without pretending you have it all together?

First, remember that "authenticity" and "transparency" are not the same thing. Authenticity means acting in a way that is candid, truthful, and connected to those around you. It means saying truthful things—not saying everything. It's important to know yourself and be honest about who you are, but it is not necessary to reveal everything.

Second, engage in the process of spiritual formation. Grow. Sometimes leaders use authenticity as an excuse to behave badly—when we are being overly critical or judgmental or cranky, we are often at our most real selves, but certainly not our best. To be faithful in our calling as Christian leaders, we must take seriously the admonition that "to whom much is given, much is required." The apostle Paul freely admitted his faults and weaknesses, but was also able to say, "You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Finally, build your leadership on solid relationships. Authentic leadership involves advocating for goals grounded in the shared values of the community for the purpose of benefitting others. This requires a strong line of relational communication between the leader and the followers.

What are some ways you have attempted to demonstrate an authentic leadership style? How well does it work in your church?

Halee Gray Scott, Ph.D., is a Millennial whose mission is to help Christian leaders live well and lead well. She currently teaches leadership and spiritual formation at Wesley Seminary and theological studies at A. W. Tozer Seminary. Drop by her blog and say hi.

April18, 2012 at 9:59 AM

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