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Leadership and Authenticity: We Photograph What We Love


© bizoo_n - Fotolia.com

© bizoo_n – Fotolia.com


“We photograph what we love.” – Kenny Rogers

I saw that quote on the wall at Country: Portraits of an American Sound, an exhibit at the Annenberg Gallery for Photography in Los Angeles. Until I attended this exhibit of country western musicians, I had no idea that Kenny Rogers was a photographer.

In his artist statement, he noted that in between practice, performance and travel, he would find himself in pretty awesome places and was drawn to the beauty. He found time to capture it. He became a photographer.

The exhibit is gone, but the resonance of that quote has stuck with me.

I also photograph what I love, and I am drawn to nature at a micro and macro view: birds, flowers, trees, majestic mountain ranges, skies, beaches and animals.

What this brings up for me now is that we capture what resonates with us, what we look at and listen to; we repeat and collect images, words, sound bites, songs, sayings, and leadership quotes that reflect who we are at the deepest level.

As leaders, are we showing the world what we love? Are we reflecting to the world our values? Leaders especially need to get in touch with their own values, practice them, and show them to the world. Call it authenticity or being real, we will find it easier to make a difference if we are showing up as what we love – to our co- workers, teams, and of course to our friends and family.

Many leaders I work with are afraid to be themselves. Millennials don’t seem to have that problem, but some Gen X and baby boomers seem to struggle with showing their teams who they are. They feel they cannot be authentic and effective at the same time. They are concerned about revealing too much or not being viewed as business-like or results oriented enough.

Yet you can be both results oriented and still love dancing, or motorcycling or flying airplanes. You can be strategic and love to cook, watch your kids play soccer, and teach Sunday school. And it is when we show our whole selves, in all our diverse interests, values and dimensions that we can really be authentic leaders.

Your followers want to be inspired; they want your vision. Reveal it to them through metaphors from your life, family, religion and passions. Connect the things you love to your leadership role and the job at hand.

The clients I have known who are most successful and happy as leaders integrate their whole selves and show their teams who they are; they put it all out there. It’s okay if you are not yet comfortable doing this. Take small steps to start revealing more of your whole self, your values, and all the things you love. I bet you will see an increase in followers.

How do you bring your whole, authentic self to your role as leader? What has been the result? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

P.S. Here is a Kenny Rogers video showing his other talent!


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