12:00 PM

Authentic Leaders choose their words carefully

By Mark Berven, President and Chief Operating Officer, Property & Casualty

There are times when the subtle difference between words doesn’t matter all that much. Whether you’re apologizing for being late or for being tardy, you’re essentially saying the same thing. But there are times when the words a leader chooses are more important. An authentic leader understands this difference and chooses their words carefully when it matters most.

I was recently inspired by an article from Michael Hyatt called, The Five Marks of Authentic Leadership, in which he describes five key elements he sees in an authentic leader. What I was able to take away was the small but important differences in some of the words he chose to describe authentic leadership. On the surface, these words may not appear much different, but the meanings they convey can be significant. Here are some of my thoughts:

Insight rather than vision
People often mention vision as a critical trait for a leader. And, while being able to see into the future is important, insight may be a more powerful idea, because it captures how a leader makes decisions in the moment. An authentic leader can’t always be future-focused; there are times when she or he needs to evaluate a situation, gather insights, and take decisive action now.

Impact rather than entertainment
The ultimate measure of a leader isn’t found in the leader themselves, Hyatt says, but in the impact the leader has on others. Leaders who are in it for their own reasons are merely entertainers. When I think about the authentic leaders I’ve been fortunate to work with, their actions weren’t for show, they were trying to accomplish something and that’s the kind of impact that creates real, loyal followers.

Integrated rather than separated
Individual leadership skills can be powerful by themselves, but they reach a new level of effectiveness when they are compounded. It’s no accident the word integrity is closely related to the word integrated. Authentic leaders understand that their skills and abilities are much more powerful when they are all working well together.

Authenticity is all about being true to yourself and others. Often, the words we use can help us be more authentic and, as a result, a more effective leader. The next time you find yourself searching for just the right word, take the time to choose carefully — those who follow you will appreciate the clarity it brings.