In my leadership class this semester, my professor, Dr. Steve Caravajal, senior principal architect at Microsoft, discussed authentic leadership. Authentic leadership is a very rare quality in today’s business world. It builds its foundations on honest relationships with followers through an ethical foundation. Nevertheless, it was something Jesus exhibited during his lifetime.
As someone who goes to a Christian college, this idea is very valuable for me because it is the root of why I am pursuing education at a Christian institution. While Dr. C. mentions that authentic relationships may seem easier in a career as a youth minister than let’s say, a high level senior vice president in a multi-national corporation, that is the challenge we must embrace when we see the corporate world as a mission field.
In the business world, it is often easy to focus on the present perspective of success and failure amidst mergers, business strategy planning, financial analysis, etc. While it is good to embrace these challenges, it is even greater to embrace the eternal perspective of success achieved through demonstrating authentic leadership. (You can also read a great article about how God measures success here.)
Here are some ways to start practicing authentic leadership skills for God to grow on in the future:
1. Do things because you believe in them, not because it makes you look good.
As a student looking for internships, one topic that comes up is whether or not the internship would help with future internship or career placement in certain fields. If you look online, there will be plenty of websites that tell you to take an internship in certain industries or with certain companies because your advancement or exit opportunities will be better. However, the Holy Spirit warned me that there is a greater drive, your passion and contribution to a specific company.
One of my contacts is a Harvard graduate who worked for the premiere companies of two elite industries, Goldman Sachs (investment banking) and McKinsey and Company (consulting). He told me that at the age I am at, I can learn basically anywhere I work. At the end of the day, looking good with a brand name internship is insubstantial compared with actually getting things done.
At my school, I see a lot of people who commit time not because it makes them look good on resumes, but because they genuinely follow the love of Christ.
2. Be consistent.
Over the years, unfortunately, I have seen a lot of people that appear successful but not consistent. While these people are well-meaning, they fail to build trust because they do not follow through with what they promise.
One of my mentors once stated, “I like to under-promise and over-deliver.” This is biblical as well, as can be seen in the following verse.
Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
3. Have ethical motives.
Here is a video from Francis Chan about why authentic leadership is important in ministry.
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