Ten Authentic Leadership Practices

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Ten Authentic Leadership Practices

by Kevin Cashman
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Summary

David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill, shares his perspective on authentic leadership with Kevin Cashman for Forbes.

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 7:45am

CONTENT: Article

David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill, one of the world’s largest private companies with $107 billion in annual revenue, shared this perspective with me on authenticity: “A critical part of transparency and a real test of leadership authenticity is having people come up to you and say, “Hey this is what I think is wrong.  Were you aware of this?” as opposed to, “Look out.  There’s the CEO.  I better not speak up.”  Your real ‘authenticity audit’ is the degree to which people are open to you, because you have been open, vulnerable and honest with them.”

When people know you will deeply and authentically listen to them, people will be authentic and honest with you.  Deepening our conversation, I asked David to elaborate his key authenticity practices and he impressively outlined 10:

  1. Be comfortable in your own skin; don't ever try to fake realness.
  2. Never take yourself too seriously; it is not usually about you.
  3. Share stories of personal failure, vulnerability, and learning.  Authenticity shows the full picture of who you are.
  4. Don't believe your own press and/or focus too much on your accomplishments.  Remember:  you really are the 'kid inside' just trying to do your best.
  5. Surround yourself with people who will give you feedback.  I was once told, "You look tired and you need a haircut."  Authenticity is both a pragmatic and profound gift.
  6. Earn the right to be trusted by being courageously truthful.  Authenticity multiplies trust with all those it touches.
  7. Encourage diversity and encourage everyone to bring the best in themselves to work.  Authenticity is inclusive.
  8. Narrow the gap between your work self and your private/home self.  Authenticity is one person everywhere, in all situations.
  9. Stay humble to learn and stay confident to serve.  Authentic leaders know when to be bold, and when to be a learner.
  10. Dedicate yourself to purpose-driven service.  Authenticity is all about service to all levels, to all stakeholders and in all moments of leadership.

Recently, to his great credit, David put some of these principles into courageous action in a very public way.  Recently, when most CEOs were still very cautious to speak their minds about the new U.S. Administration’s positions on trade and immigration, David spoke up strongly on the issues.  He asserted, “We have to turn the tide on some of the current themes that we are seeing.  Geopolitics are shifting and we are standing at a crossroads of some really important issues for business and society.”  Elaborating more on trade he said, “We need to be very mindful of the effect on jobs and the impact of trade on jobs in local communities but it’s not an all-or-nothing approach.  If the U.S. steps back from our leadership role in a global economy, I can guarantee you other countries will very, very quickly fill the gap.”

Read this article in its entirety on Forbes >>>

Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | Authentic Leadership | Business Ethics | CEO Action on Paris Agreement | Cargill | Corporate Governance | Corporate Social Responsibility | David MacLennan | Employee Engagement | Forbes | Kevin Cashman

CONTENT: Article