11:30 AM

Authentic leaders need to evolve with the times

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

All things evolve over time. So, too, should our leadership.

A recent article by Jim Detert, a professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, talks about what courageous leaders do differently and many of his points resonated with me and my thoughts about authentic leadership.

Detert talks about how, many years ago, leadership used to be about things like strength, bravery and courage — and that made sense when our daily survival depended on it (like when we literally had to avoid being eaten by dinosaurs). Thankfully, as times have evolved, most working environments are no longer kill-or-be-killed situations, but there are times when we can still think about leadership in this outdated way.

Today’s courage, Detert says, is more about openness and humility and I would add that today’s authentic leaders are also more self-aware and eager to listen. Evolution, indeed. The article goes on to break down how the courageous leaders of today have adapted, and I think these are great examples for anyone who seeks to be an authentic leader, as well. They include:

Courageous leaders display openness and humility

  • When they don’t know, leaders can build credibility simply by saying so
  • Leaders who share the challenges they’re going through personally with their teams, rather than acting as if nothing is wrong, will win-over more followers and create a stronger team
  • Leaders who apologize when they’re wrong aren’t showing weakness, they’re building trust

Courageous leaders put principles first

  • Leadership isn’t a popularity contest and some decisions that need to be made won’t be popular
  • By acting in alignment with her or his core principles, leaders are being consistent and reliable

Courageous leaders focus on making environments safer for others

  • Today’s leaders don’t just watch out for their teams, they actively look for ways to help them lead
  • Leaders need to surround themselves with people who help them learn, rather than those who may be flattering them

Since we’re no longer being chased by dinosaurs, today’s authentic leaders can actively choose to be vulnerable, if that means inspiring others to do the right thing, and that’s the kind of evolution we need.