The Three Cs of Authentic Leadership

 |  Leadership



Larry Spears, CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership identifies ten characteristics of servant-leaders: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of people, and Building community. Of these, I believe that awareness is the keystone of being an authentic leader.

Robert Greenleaf observed, “Awareness is not a giver of solace – it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers of solace. They have their own inner security.”  Able leaders are engaged in honest self-reflection and self-affirmation. Self-reflection brings about self-awareness or consciousness. Consciousness is the first C of authentic leadership.

The second C of authentic leadership is “Connected.” The authentic leader, by virtue of her consciousness is aware of the interconnectedness of all life. The authentic leader is aware of not just the reality of our connectedness but the need for our connectedness. Business happens as a result of relationships between people. There is no business-to business-or business-to-consumer. There is human to human. Understanding connectedness, we make becoming more authentically connected a priority. When we do, we invite the collaboration necessary for aligned decision-making, creativity, and innovation to have a home in our organizations.

The third C of authentic leadership is “Concerned.”  The authentic leader’s consciousness and understanding of connectedness puts the leader on a path marked by care and compassion. The authentic leader cares about others, about her directs, about his community, about the world. For the authentic leader, how we engage one another and help one another to develop is equally important as what we are doing to drive toward positive business results. One is dependent upon the other. The leader’s concern yields tremendous benefit to the organization for it generates trust – a vital condition for organizational success.

Our work as leaders is to impact and engage others in important work that causes positive disruption to the status quo. When we embark on a journey to become more conscious, connected, and concerned we become more authentic and better able to do the work of leadership. We engage others with openness. We look to help. We hope for other’s success. Authentic leadership is a daily decision. It’s time to decide. Are you ready?

(Excerpted from “The Hero’s Journey – Toward a More Authentic Leadership” by Greg Giuliano. Available at