As part of this leadership series, I have discussed the three lessons I have learned as a leader. This week is the final lesson: bring the best of who you are to what you do and always play to your strengths. 

Some of my peers read voraciously about leadership. They are constantly trying on different styles of leadership they have read about. You can be a strategic leader, an innovative leader, a consultative leader, a networked leader. The list of possibilities is endless. What I have found really helpful is Bill George’s concept of True North. True North is your orientation point, your fixed point in a spinning world that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, values and the principles you lead by. True North is your internal compass, unique to you, representing who you are at your deepest level. 

I have discovered that if I bring my True North, my most authentic self, to my role, I will be the best leader I can be. It’s true, you can always learn new skills in leadership, however who you are, is set in place. Work out your strengths and stop beating yourself up for what you’re not good at. I will never be dispassionate and reserved. Believe me, I’ve tried. It is not in my DNA. I will never be the sort of leader who can be bureaucratic and transactional. My True North is a deep love for people, a commitment to their development and care and a dedication to help every person in my wake get to where they need to go. My strengths help me be that sort of leader and I have stopped trying to be anyone else. 

Commencement Ceremony

Bringing my authentic self to everything I do, means that I am completely present wherever I am and with whoever I’m with. It also means that I always have a larger picture in mind. I am constantly thinking about culture, structures and resources that will help everyone in my care be their best selves.

Three students with laptop

I will leave you with some key questions to help you discover your own authentic self:

  1. What one word do you want people to use to describe you? What word would they currently use?
  2. If you were to donate everything you have to a cause or charity, which cause would it be?
  3. If you accomplish one thing by the end of the year, what would make the biggest impact on your happiness?
  4. What do you think are the most important values to live by? Are you living your life accordingly?

Thank you for reading and may you always bring a positive impact to the people around you.

Students walking college cres