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Authentic Leadership 3. Five pillars of authentic living & leading everyone must have

The time has come for everyone to think twice about leaders and leadership as this impacts every aspect of our lives.

Erroneous mindset about leadership

Unfortunately, many people erroneously think that leaders are people in power positions. They give their power away to these decision-makers because they don't see themselves as ‘leaders’. The truth is, we all have a leadership role to play.

It may not be as visible as people in power positions. It becomes evident, especially in the kind and quality of people we vote for, support, and keep in place.

People support likeminded people

We support like-minded people who resonate with who we are. Just think of it, who you are, determines the quality of leader you vote for and who you place in a power position, to make decisions on your behalf. The quality of leadership is your/our responsibility.

Who are authentic leaders?

In the previous article in this series of Authentic Leadership, we focussed on identifying who authentic leaders are and asked the question if we qualify. It makes it still easier to identify authentic people, especially authentic leaders if we know what the five pillars of authentic living, are. It is like having a tick-box list.

The questions are, what is the foundation of authentic living and leading? What are the pillars of authentic living and leading? How do we develop this new foundation?

But first, some background on where I got this mind-blowing information from.

Background to authentic leadership discovery

In the previous article, we covered the long months spent on researching leadership, the Human Genome Project, spirituality, and how to recover our original, authentic DNA blueprint, after being paralysed in a motor accident. On returning to the academic world, I found that I had changed but not the academic world and especially not the leadership development environment. I left.

However, two years later I was called back and offered an exceptional post at the university.

The opportunity of a lifetime.

This post was specifically created to meet the needs of the university to integrate and facilitate cooperation between the deans of faculties and heads of departments with the senior management of the university while building connections, interdisciplinary communication, and cooperation with national and international universities and academic institutes.

Not only was I deeply honoured and grateful for this offer, but it was also an opportunity of a lifetime. I was on top of the world.

Actions speak louder than words

I was headhunted and offered the post not only because of a broad academic career, but because of research done on holistic integrated management and leadership and the exceptional results obtained in consulting and facilitating transformation in various companies, organisations, political parties, and government institutes that included the Defence Force and Police Services. I learnt that actions speak louder than words. (Ps. See our website for testimonials.)

I was to report directly to the vice-chancellor of the university. However, this happy experience was also a turning point.

Turning point

During the interview, I became acutely aware of the highly accomplished academics who were in the meeting, including the vice-chancellor himself. Not only was I honoured by this opportunity, but it was also a seal on all the hard work I had done within, and also outside the academic world. In essence, you could say that I had arrived. This was the pinnacle anyone can only dream of.

Declining a lifetime opportunity

However, after two hours into the interview, I knew I needed to decline this lifetime opportunity that not only included a title and a substantial remuneration package, but also the opportunity to travel, see the world, meet new people, and build bridges.

In the middle of this all-important interview I realised, this was not what I was called and prepared for. This was not my soul's purpose. I had to be true to myself. I humbly and graciously declined, got up, and walked out. This was a turning point.

Ego-trip versus soul-journey

Like many others, I had to decide between an ego trip and a soul journey. My ego wanted this post, but my heart and soul said, “No, there is something more. This is just a marker. It is time to move on”.

Purpose and calling

My soul calling and purpose for the next stage of my life was to not only find out all I could about authentic living and leading but to learn how to identify and help develop and train real, authentic leaders. I had to go back to the roots of identifying leaders, leadership, and leadership training. I had to go back in history and relearn what we had forgotten. Many books followed.

Letting go of everything

I sold everything I had and set out on a journey in search of the roots of authenticity and authentic leadership. This not only took me down the path of ancient history, but this path also included visits to leaders in countries like Peru, Egypt, Turkey, and tribal leaders in Africa. Their universal wisdom was only shared by word of mouth. You first needed to go through various initiations to receive these sacred teachings.

Leadership lessons from religious texts

Some of the most important teachings on leadership we find in our religious texts. The story of King Solomon[i] comes to mind as an excellent example of the rise and fall of a leader. There are many leadership lessons to learn from ancient history. We do not need to re-invent the wheel. Ps. See chapter one in the book, New Leadership DNA. Developing enlightened leaders.

Leadership training – a sacred journey

The fact is that since the beginning of time, identifying and training leaders was and still is, a sacred, spiritual journey. Leadership and leadership training is all about moving out of darkness and ignorance into the light

The question is, where did we get lost? How on earth did leadership training not only land up in the academic world but also got placed within the ranks of business development and/or part of an MBA?

Where did we go wrong and how do we fix the mess?

The history of leadership

In the previous article, we used the masterpiece of Michael Angelo as the example of ego-driven people, including leaders, struggling within their fixed mindset, and confused by various theories, and diverse perspectives versus authentic leaders getting reconnected.

The truth about leadership is that from the beginning of time, leadership has always been about connection, right down to a DNA level.


The discovery of DNA