Stop Asking Leaders To Be Authentic. Here’s Why.

In an age of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’ and leaders who blatantly lie without blinking, we can’t be blamed for our search and desire for authenticity.

It’s exhausting. But what are we looking for? The Truth?

Maybe, we can’t handle the truth.

Asking for authenticity from our leaders, be it our employees, teachers, mentors, bosses, or world leaders might seem like a logical move but is that what we really want?

Let’s take a closer look at what ‘being authentic’ means and why we may not want it after all.

Social Media vs. Authenticity

Speaking of real and authentic, how about a trip through someone’s social media. It’s all sunshine and rainbows, to hear them tell it, but it’s typically a facade or arranged to make others, and moreover, them, believe it. Everyone is guilty of doing it, but is it okay?

If you are looking at a picture of someone’s new car and feeling a little jealous, don’t. If you are wondering how they can manage to pay for it, so are they.

If we were all to be authentic on social media, and let’s face it, some people are, it could become a depressing place to be. There is the other extreme, as well, where people feel the need to blow up and exaggerate every little snag and flaw, but we don’t want to see that, either. It makes us feel guilty.

When people are honest on their social media, “I’m scared, I’m hungry, I’m broke’, people look away. It’s a TMI, too much information situation we are not ready to embrace. If we read that and react, then we also feel a responsibility to them to lend an ear or a hand or money (cue the ‘donate’ button).

Where Does That Leave Us?

Authenticity comes to us in many forms, and depending on who we are and what we want, it depends on how much of it we really want. We live in a world of knock-offs, reproductions, and life-likes.

So what? We may ask. We should ask.

When we ask our peers or leaders to be authentic, what does that really mean? We don’t see people as authentic on their terms, but rather, ours. There is a famous quote by author Anais Nin that says, ‘We don’t see things as are, we see them as we are’.

It’s our own version of authenticity we crave to see.

If our leaders or society performs in a way that we don’t agree with, we are all too quick to deem them false. But we are judging them based on our core values, not theirs.

Please Be Authentic.

No, The Other Authentic

We may ask our leaders to be authentic but what we are really asking is for them to be authentic to the organization or companies’ values. True to what we deem to be real, not necessarily what their own core values are.

Herein lies the challenge.

Asking for leaders to be authentic and then condemning them for stepping outside the lines is a slippery slope. What companies are asking is for them to assimilate with the company values, not necessarily their personal ones.

Go Ahead, Ask

People always blur the truth on their resumes, in interviews, and on the job all the time.

Perhaps for potential employers and employees, there needs to be more rigor around the interview questions each has – to truly gauge if, how and when someone is a true culture fit. After all, everyone wants this relationship to work out right? It’s not easy for either side and you both want to get it right.

Maybe the answer is in the question. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you really want the answers for. Skip the standard down-pat questions and opt for situational and behavioral interview questions. Cut to the chase and find out if:

  • Will they enjoy working with you?
  • Are you genuinely excited about the opportunity?
  • Do you have the core capabilities to do the job?

Feel Like An Imposter?

Curious if you’re suffering from a lack of authenticity? Here are several questions to get you thinking:

  • Do you lie to yourself about what really matters to you?
  • Do you compare yourself to others and come up lacking?
  • Do you run on empty in order to impress others?
  • Do you pretend to have a picture-perfect life?
  • Do you hold back when you are not sure of the next steps?
  • Do you need brand name clothes and shiny cars to prove your worth?
  • Do you spend your time proving to family or your culture you are worthy?
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IN CLOSING: Asking for authenticity from your newly acquired Pablo Picasso is wise. Asking it from our leaders requires patience and a clear understanding from the beginning to ensure you get the masterpiece you are hoping for.

We all have a version of ourselves we have to put on. One at home, one at work, one in social situations, etc. The key is to understanding who you are when you are by yourself and have no one to answer to.

The Floor Is Yours: Is it asking too much for others to be authentic?

Josh H Miller How Good Managers Become Great Coaches

How Good Managers Become Great Coaches

Coaching is a lot of things, but it isn’t a lot of the things it’s claimed to be:

It’s not a quick fix. It’s not easy. It’s not a magical pill.

AND it’s definitely not about you, the manager.

Successful Managers know unlocking the employee’s potential to maximize their performance starts with listening. Here are 3 reminders to help you get started:

  1. Create a safe space that encourages conversation without judgment or consequences.
  2. Get curious, ask questions, questions open doors.
  3. Get comfortable with silence. If the question seems unanswerable rephrase it and ask again.

I recently wrote an article titled: 14 Coaching Principles All Managers Should Practice where I shared some of my best practices in supporting managers who coach. Here are are a few more critical components necessary to achieve greatness:

Josh H Miller How Good Managers Become Great Coaches

Help people to learn, don’t teach. The most powerful lessons are the ones we learn ourselves. Think about a time when you believed you had an elevating insight only to be told by someone that they have been telling you that forever. Being on the receiving end of being told or given advice can be informative. In some cases, advice can result in change, but it doesn’t inspire taking ownership of making a change. BOTTOM LINE: Guide the conversation, don’t run the conversation.

Personal insight is the greatest empowerment to change. For most people, inspiration to change generates from that eureka moment when they discover what you the coach already know. BOTTOM LINE: Great coaches tell people where to look but not what to see.

Turn insight into action. Insight is more than surfacing a thought. Take that thought apart, understand where it generated, what triggers are running their show and the benefits or not of transforming negative actions into actions for success. BOTTOM LINE: Be curious but also courageous in your questioning.

Forgive yourself. Yep, I said it. Think about it. People are creatures of habit. Most of what we do and say are instinctual, habits of responses and actions we have honed over a lifetime. Often, they are habits formed to serve a purpose that no longer exists. The brilliance of insight is that a new perspective can develop and inspire new actions, replacing old habits with better ones. BOTTOM LINE: Be patient with yourself and the process.

Coaching is 90% attitude and 10% technique.

IN CLOSING: As a manager responsible for developing your team, the main ingredient to a successful coaching scenario is focusing on the person being coached. As important as you may feel, think or be, it’s their story and insights that will drive a successful outcome, not yours.

The Floor Is Yours: What makes a good manager a GREAT COACH?

*Add Your Comments Below*


Let’s Connect: | Follow Joshua Miller For More

Joshua Miller is a Master Certified Executive Coach, creative leader and bestselling author. His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator, supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.

Please ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.

The 4 Letter Word Great Leaders Use

You’re ready to address your list of to-dos when unexpectedly your attention is needed elsewhere, or you’re stymied by a problem where you have no solution. Building on feeling frustrated, the internal feeling turns into resentment, anxiety, overwhelm, and ultimately defeat.

Imagine a world without conflict. We could have the solutions to all of our concerns. We could add an extra day to the week or hours to our day. Our relationships would be seamless, and our energies would never exhaust. While this utopia isn’t possible, there is one action that will get you close. Asking for HELP. 

Four common reasons we don’t ask for help:

  1. We may feel we will be revealing incompetency (what we tell ourselves, not a truth)
  2. We may feel judged (what we tell ourselves, not a truth)
  3.  If we truly get the help we needed, we may need to make a change (always a show stopper)
  4. We think we shouldn’t have to ask, (no one reads minds!) holding back quote josh h miller

Successful people privately or professionally understand that asking for help can not only lessen their to-do list but also opens up the possibility of learning something new.

People want to help (even if they are not asking for help). Researchers, scientists, and leaders all agree helping others elevates our need to be purposeful. It is a natural instinct that studies show is present at birth. Asking for help can feel uncomfortable, but it’s a sure-fire way to lessen your workload, get unanswered questions resolved, provide a sense of relief, and propel self-confidence.

Overall if asking for help is uncomfortable, consider the following:

  • No one will think less of you if you are direct and comfortable in your request.
  • Take the guesswork out of it for the other person. Let the person know what you need, set them up to succeed by being direct, and detailed. giving details, trusting them, and appreciating the gesture.
  • Don’t apologize for asking for help Let the person know what you need, set them up to succeed, trust them, and appreciate their gesture.

IN THE END: Admitting you need help, and asking for it, is a triumph that sparks curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness. It shows a desire to learn and achieve, building resilience, increasing productivity, and emotional stability.

Make asking for HELP your new comfort zone.



The Floor Is Yours: What stops you from asking for help?




Let’s Connect: | Follow Joshua Miller For More

Joshua Miller is a Master Certified Executive Coach, creative leader and bestselling author. His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.

Please ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.

3 Reasons Your Company Has A Weak Coaching Culture

Leaders don’t listen.

There, I said it.

Okay, maybe not all leaders – but many of them are guilty of being overworked, under developed and lacking adequate time management skills, which as a result doesn’t allow them take the time to truly listen to their people resulting in some bad habits as a people manager.

So why is this important?

As a coach, you must be able to stay present, engage others through powerful questions and then wait long enough for a response from the other individual. Coaching is not about being right or knowing the answer, it’s about guiding the other person to the place where they can discover the answer on their own. Coaching is not about giving direction, leading the witness or bullying the other person into action.

If a leader doesn’t feel equipped with the necessary skills or training to do this, you won’t be creating a coaching culture…but rather a demanding one.

I’ve been writing about coaching for almost as long as I have been a coach and if there’s one thing I have witnessed, it’s the rise and fall of coaching cultures within organizations. It’s no secret that many companies want to create an empowering and impactful coaching culture but the odds of its success are not always clearly outlined. Last year, in my article “A Coaching Culture: Why Leaders Struggle As Coaches (Part 3)” I wrote about what it takes for an organization to seriously consider building out a coaching culture and the strategic work that’s involved, now I want to discuss “why” it isn’t working out (or working out as well as you would hope).

If you are one of the few organizations whose been trying to stand up a successful coaching culture and has experienced more failures than successes, don’t give up just yet. Although giving up may be the easiest of options, it’s worth first diagnosing what’s blocking your success.

Unfortunately, the decision to create such a culture can stem from a variety of places none of which are ideal if the goal is to create a successful coaching culture. Often times, the directive comes from the top down and the person or persons responsible for carrying out this initiative are either ill-equipped, ill-educated or ill-advised on how to execute effectively.

What comes next is something I have witnessed firsthand and all too often.

An organization sends a group of their pre-selected leaders to a workshop to learn a variation of one of the basic coaching models (usually called GROW) and then expect them to walk away prepared to coach anyone and anywhere. This is both fundamentally wrong and a disaster just waiting to happen. Organizations need to view this type of project like any other change initiative, using a systematic and strategic approach that’s been thought out well in advance and mapped to both a broader vision around the company’s talent development philosophy and roadmap.

“Changing culture is not as easy as changing your outfit”

Some basic questions organizations should consider before embarking on creating a coaching culture:

  • Why do we need this?
  • What specifically are we looking to achieve?
  • How will we know we were successful?
  • How do we know we’ve selected the right group of coaches?

Only  11% of senior leaders actively use coaching despite  70% of organizations claiming they coach their people

Here are three common reasons many organizations fail when it comes to successfully standing up a coaching culture:

The Framework Is Weak. Just as you can’t train anyone to be a coach if they aren’t interested in being one, you also can’t throw any coaching model into an organization and hope it sticks. GROW is widely used as the go-to model for many companies looking to train the trainer or introduce coaching within their functions and culture. The reason is obvious, it’s easy to understand and in theory apply but that’s where it falls apart. More times than not, the tool is introduced with the majority of time spent on what it is vs. how to use it. Having any model with little to no direction on its application renders it useless and potential harmful to others. It’s called coaching, not modeling. The coach is responsible for supporting the other individual’s growth and change, not the model. A good (or even great coach) will be able to see the potential in any model and decide how and when to apply it.

The Coach Is Weak. If your leaders training isn’t great, then don’t expect greatness from your leaders. Common challenges for coaches (at any level) right out of the gate is a common lack of presence. Being present is everything as a coach, and from there is where you (the coach) can actually go to work. When a coach isn’t properly trained, they are going to rely on what it’s comfortable and familiar which is typically the opposite of coaching. I see managers all the time with the best of intentions of actually looking to coach but in reality they are directing, giving advice or sometimes consulting. Coaching isn’t a check mark in a box, it’s a commitment to another person’s greatness to ensure they’re in check.

The Accountability Is Weak. I always tell my clients that the true value of the coaching work we do will come the moment the session ends and you go back to your life and apply what you learned. The same holds true in the workplace. The leader/manager’s duty as a coach doesn’t end when the session ends, in fact that’s when it begins. Holding your coachee/employee accountable to what was covered in the session, discovered through conversation and committed to before the next session is critical. People who receive coaching are usually lacking follow through (amongst some other common blind spots) and the best way to aid another person’s accountability is to demonstrate your own. Being accountable to your employee is about owning your integrity. You can’t expect someone else to follow through if you don’t.

Note: These two reports from HCI and the ICF “Building a coaching culture with millennial leaders” and “Building a coaching culture for change management” are both insightful and packed with incredible data.

The floor is yours: How important is coaching to your companies’ culture?

With Leadership,

Joshua |

Joshua Miller is an executive coach, creative leader and bestselling author. His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies. Joshua is a Master Certified Coach trained with the International Coaching Federation and CTI (The Coaches Training Institute).

Please ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.

Raising Future Leaders

The Best Advice For Raising Future Leaders

48% of the workforce will be millennials by the year 2020*

As a father of two young kids, I know parenting doesn’t come with instructions, you learn-as-you-go, navigating a course of action that hopefully provides a positive outcome. Never considering my training in executive coaching, psychology and organizational development would help me as a Dad; I too prodded along as a parent doing my best, hoping for the best.

I was so wrong! As I realized the fundamentals I used to develop executive leaders are the same as can be used to develop future leaders, I realized the process can start with us as parents, raising our children to be leaders.

Here are 5 valuable qualities of leadership that I believe make it a vital life skill:

  1. A positive attitude: The ability to believe in your own goals and abilities in the face of discouragement from others.
  2. Overcoming adversity: Reframing problems into “challenges” to stay focused and get over, around or through all sorts of barriers.
  3. Perseverance: Sticking to a goal – a training program, work assignment, friendship – is difficult, while quitting is easy. Leaders know when to persevere and when to quit.
  4. Commitment: Learning from mistakes rather than being discouraged by them.
  5. Excellence: Doing the best you can in every situation.

So what about our youngest leaders?

It’s never too early to start developing our next generation of leaders. Below is Part 1 of a (very) long collection of my short thoughts on teaching the fundamentals of leadership as a parent.


The true test of leaders ability lies heavily on how they navigate the unknown and deal with uncertainty. This is a daily risk for all leaders. Children are no different. Kids pretty much assume they can get what they ask for, albeit from incessant whining, complaining or earning it but what about when it doesn’t go as planned? It’s perfectly okay for a child to experience uncertainty or disappointment regarding something they want. Saying no to your child is part of being a parent; learning how to handle the letdown is theirs.

Decision Making

Leaders are asked to make all types of decisions every day, sometimes with little information to go on. It’s a critical skill and a necessity to becoming successful in a leadership type role. Giving your young ones the ability (and opportunity) to choose certain things like their clothes for school or vegetable with dinner begins this process.

Problem Solving

Although as a parent it can be heart wrenching at times to hear your child cry or see them upset but allowing them the space to be with their emotions and then find a way to work through them is truly an essential life skill.

Entrepreneur Mindset

Whenever my oldest has an idea and I can see his creativity is booming, my wife and I give him our full attention and encourage him to think through his idea. Last week he wanted to create a lemonade stand to raise money to buy him something. Being creative and innovative is part of every leader in one-way or another.

Being Accountable

Being accountable is something we all struggle with from time to time but teaching kids the concept of “showing up” is one of the most important life lessons. When my oldest decided one-day he no longer wanted to continue on a sports team he was on, we asked him to think about his teammates and what they may feel, should he quit. The good news is that he didn’t quit and his team went to win the championships.

Being Visionary

Some of the greatest leaders possessed some of the greatest visions. Their ability to see something in a way others couldn’t make them truly innovative. Kids are hardwired to think big and have visions of what could be. If your child sees something or believes in something that he/she wants to create, empower them to move forward.

Speaking Powerfully

The ability to speak powerfully, not loudly is an art. Great leaders understand and practice this daily. As a parent, there are many ways in which you can practice confident communication. We learned early on that going out to dinner and having our kids ask the server directly what they would like to eat or drink helped build their confidence and communication skills.


Sometimes showing up is half the battle while other times it’s the whole thing. Admitting when you are wrong and owning up to something that you are at a fault takes a big heart and strong mind. As a parent, the easiest way to illustrate this lesson to your kids is to model this behavior in front of them. Simply put, admit when you are wrong or at fault.


Final thoughts: Last March, I wrote an article called You Are A Role Model, Now Act Like It and in it I layout the importance of being present around your kids and those who look up to you because in the end, people will remember how you made them feel versus what you did and what you said.

The floor is yours: What’s one leadership quality a young kid should learn & how would you teach them?

With leadership, Joshua | | “I Call Bullshit: Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s

leadership lego

5 Signs A Leader Should Step Down

We all know the pressures associated with sitting in a position of power, so why is it so many hang on to their “hot seat” well past their expiration date?

History is paved with stories of public (and not so public) figures who where either removed from their post either by force or by their own faith, but no matter how you look at it, all leaders have an expiration date.

Call it ego, call it pride or even call it fear – all of these surely play some role in a leader’s inability to lead effectively. No matter what you label it, that doesn’t answer the underlying question around “what” they can do to avoid a lackluster exit from a seat they once adorned.

One of the biggest confusions surrounding this topic is the term itself…”stepping down” because it’s historically steeped with a stigma of shame or disappointment, in addition to be conflated with similar terminology such as “step aside” or “resignation”. Compared to “resign”, “step down” has a connotation of an amicable parting with the possibility of a continuing relationship. The word “resign” is often used when employee parts employer over some disagreement or other negative cause.

Whether you call it stepping down or stepping aside, there’re some clear signs that the individual needs an adjustment. This article does an excellent job summarizing five common signs to watch out for:

  1. The stress is getting the better of you. There are two kinds of stress – the kind of stress that motivates you to do better and the kind of stress that kills you. You need to identify which kind of stress you’re dealing with. The latter has the ability to physically and mentally exert you. When you realize that your stress is harming your team’s performance as well as your personal life, you need to step down before it completely destroys you.
  2. You can’t give your leadership role the focus it deserves. Leadership is a time-consuming position. If you can’t give all you have to it, it is best to step down. Leadership requires keen awareness of the behavior of those around you, recognizing who needs motivation and direction, and knowing who is doing what and why. If you have other things professionally and personally that require your attention, it is smart to step down before you do more harm than good.
  3. You don’t possess the skills to be a good leader. Sure, you’re amazing at your work. But just because you are good at what you do, it doesn’t mean that you are a good leader too. As a leader, you should ask your team to point out your weaknesses and you should try to better yourself. However, some deficits can’t be overcome, and when those deficits can hurt the entire team’s morale, it is best to step down.
  4. Someone else is a better fit than you. There will come a time when you will have been in the leadership position for a long period and you’ll stop innovating and learning new things. If you think that your position has made you complacent, you should hand over the reins to someone else. When you are no longer challenged by your responsibilities, it is time to look for your successor.
  5. There is no more scope for growth. Have you reached the top of the field in your department with no more room to grow? If you feel like you’ve already learned all there is to learn, you need to consider switching fields to motivate yourself once again. If not, you’ll be stuck in a dead-end job until you retire.

If you’re not sure if your time is coming to an end, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you growing personally? 
  2. Are you putting your needs in front of those you serve?
  3. Have you accomplished what you wanted?
  4. Is this what you want to continue to do for the rest of your life?
  5. Is your passion shifting?
  6. Are you bored?
  7. Are you able to continue to reinvent?
  8. Do you have the energy?
  9. Is a different skill set necessary?
  10. Can someone else do the job better?
  11. Have you groomed a successor and are they ready to lead?
  12. What is best for the organization? 
  13. Are you psychologically and emotionally ready to step down? 
  14. Can you afford to financially step down? 
  15. Can you still do the job mentally as well as physically? 

In short: As a leader, your first responsibility is actually to yourself – but not in a narcissistic and self-indulgent manner. Think of your organization, those you serve and your purpose for being in the role and then take a deep look inward and realistically monitor if you (still) have what it takes to show up as the leader who took that vary seat on day one. I highly recommend Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful to further your own development while closing any potential blind spots.

The floor is yours: What’s one quality a leader must embody to be successful?

With leadership, Joshua | | “I Call Bullshit: Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s”

Being Authentic: The Ultimate Leadership Trap

Upon completing my first book, “I Call Bullshit: Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s” I was bombarded with questions around the word “authentic” and what it means to live a life authentically.

In today’s workplace, being labeled authentic or an authentic leader has become synonymous with being at the top of your game and considered the gold standard so many aspire to achieve.

Sounds great, right?

Well not so fast. In a world where we are inundated by the latest term, acronym or label, it’s easy to fall prey to a word that’s highly overused but often misunderstood.

“No true greatness was ever achieved without great opposition” – Dov Baron, Inc. Mag Top 100 Leadership Speaker

Enter the authentic leader and the confusion, cost and challenge that accompanies this new and widely used label:

The Confusion:

For many the challenge begins with the actual meaning of the word. If you look it up, there are a few different but equally convincing definitions that could apply. The overarching theme is one around being true to your own personality, spirit or character – but that still lends itself to a lot of interpretation.

What many people don’t realize is that there are two fundamentally different types of authenticity which people collapse all the time:

  • Emotional authenticity represents the value of allowing your “true feelings to be known.” This is the quality that most people equate with authenticity.
  • Strategic authenticity places the emphasis is on being true to your goals rather than to your feelings.

Leaders who embody strong emotional authenticity are potentially capable of forging stronger bonds across the organization because a sense of mutual trust develops when the other person knows how they feel. Strategic authenticity is a bit different. This type of authenticity is focused on being true to one’s goals rather than feelings. The fact is, leadership is about people and relationships and the best leaders know this and display a high level of EQ within the workplace. Knowing when and how to place your emotions to the side in service of performing your duties takes both practice, skill and heart.

Leaders are faced daily with tough situations that require tougher decisions. The challenge lies in the landscape of uncertainty these decisions live. So much of life in (and out of) the workplace is steeped in the unknown and knowing what to do and say can leave even the best leaders scratching their heads. Finding the right balance when it comes to sharing with others is part art and part science. Just as you can have too little authenticity, you can also have too much. The great leaders understand and practice this daily, but that doesn’t mean it there isn’t a cost associated with it.

The Cost:

When researching the impact and cost of being authentic, I went directly to the source and someone I admire within his field of work – Adam Grant. In an article from the World Economic Forum, his work points to three costs of being too authentic:

  • Failing to grow. INSEAD professor Herminia Ibarra finds that if you’re deeply concerned with being true to yourself, you’re at risk for sticking rigidly to that self instead of evolving and changing.
  • Over-sharing. In her inspiring book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown has written thoughtfully about how vulnerability is not the same as oversharing. But evidence suggests that oversharing is more likely when authenticity is important to you. In two studies, psychologist Gwendolyn Seidman found that people who are motivated to express their true selves post more personally revealing and emotional content on Facebook. Other researchers have suggested that people who want to be seen authentically are more likely to share information that jeopardizes their professional relationships. Aiming to be highly authentic leads us to filter less.
  • Feeling inferior. Studies in companies and controlled experiments show that people are less creative and less helpful when they work for highly authentic leaders who have a strong sense of their values. I’ve watched this happen with highly authentic Fortune 500 CEOs and military generals: their junior colleagues don’t feel courageous or vulnerable enough. They stay silent, even though that’s the exact opposite of what authentic leadership is supposed to promote.

The Challenge

There are many challenges with being authentic in the workplace. So many in fact, that in my research for both my book and this article – I was left with more questions than answers. From a professional stand point, the Harvard Business Review article “The Authenticity Paradox” does a wonderful job summarizing authentic leadership and goes on to state three main challenges:

  1. Leaders make more-frequent and more-radical changes in the kinds of work they do. As they strive to improve their game, a clear and firm sense of self is a compass that helps them navigate choices and progress toward their goals. But when looking to change their game, a too rigid self-concept becomes an anchor that keeps them from moving forward.
  2. In global business, leaders work with people who don’t share their cultural norms and have different expectations for how they should behave. It can often seem as if they have to choose between what is expected—and therefore effective—and what feels authentic.
  3. Identities are always on display in today’s world of ubiquitous connectivity and social media. How we present ourselves—not just as executives but as people, with quirks and broader interests—has become an important aspect of leadership. Having to carefully curate a persona that’s out there for all to see can clash with our private sense of self.

Another really interesting take on being authentic comes from the framework “The Three Selves” which states the following:

The Three Selves is a continuum that provides a more nuanced way of understanding authentic behavior. It shows that, rather than being either “authentic” or “inauthentic,” each of us possesses the following three selves: the Authentic Self, the Adapted Self, and the Performing Self.

  • The Authentic Self is an expression of your core values, beliefs, needs, desires, thoughts, emotions, and traits—and how you would behave if you didn’t fear the consequences of your behavior. This is the truest reflection of who you are and, given this, being your Authentic Self feels amazing.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Performing Self. This is who you are when you feel like you don’t have a choice but to conform or mask aspects of your true self. It’s the carefully constructed persona that you project to protect against what you fear will happen by being yourself.
  • Between these two ways of being lies the Adapted Self. This is the self that most of us have never contemplated, but that has the power to change our lives, and our perceptions of ourselves. The Adapted Self is who you are when you make a choice to change an aspect of your behavior, in order to meet your own needs or others’ needs. When you adapt, you’re not driven by fear – you’re driven by an authentic desire to change your behavior. Because you’re making a choice willingly, it feels good to do.

In conclusion, there is no one right way to be an authentic leader but there are some common qualities you can learn and adopt which many of the best leaders possess. Start by truly getting to know yourself and understand what you like, dislike and the potential triggers that will keep you from being present. Learn to connect with other people while exhibiting humility, vulnerability and a sincere desire to care for others wellbeing (hint – hone your EQ skills). Lastly, request feedback early and often from people so you can learn as you go and discover who you are and how you show up. Remember, you can’t be a leader if you have no one to lead.

The floor is yours: How challenging is it to create a workplace culture that allows authentic behavior?

With leadership,

Joshua | | “I Call Bullshit: Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s”

wizard of oz

When A Leaders Weakness Is Their Greatest Strength

All leaders all flawed.

There I said it.

Well, to be fair we are all flawed.

Sure, leaders are under the microscope and prone to more scrutiny than others, especially in the workplace – but when it comes down to it, if you are a human being, you have flaws.

The good news is that these flaws which for the sake of this article I’m going to call weaknesses don’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes the strongest feature of something or someone isn’t on the outside but hidden on the inside.

Some of the greatest leaders also had some of the biggest weaknesses. But it possible to turn your greatest weakness into your biggest strength?

In business, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is vital. It can be the difference between success and failure. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Most leaders identify their weaknesses and take the necessary steps to turn them into strengths which is what they should do if they want to be successful. But imagine if those weaknesses were potentially stronger than their current strengths?

The point I am looking to drive home here is that: it’s essential to one’s growth as a leader to look inside and discover what’s there around who you are – at your core.

(FYI: here’s a great article on the topic of turning your weaknesses into strengths).

Some of the greatest leaders I know would probably fail on any normal character assessment because what many constitute as “core strengths to lead”- are simply not what they use to be successful. In reality their greatest strength was their greatest weakness.

The best way to illustrate this point is to use the three characters from the famous movie The Wizard Of Oz. Each of these characters represents a type of leader and leadership quality I have found in all my years working with people at this level. I stumbled upon this brilliant summary which I used below to further illustrate this point.

The Scarecrow.

His greatest wish was to have brains for himself from the Wizard of Oz. Despite his perceived lack of brains, the Scarecrow was exceedingly intelligent and resourceful.

  • Initially, left hanging on a pole, the Scarecrow lived a life totally unsuited to his strengths — he couldn’t scare crows away at all. But by Dorothy removing him from the pole gave him a chance to discover his strengths: open mindedness, perspective, curiosity, leadership, and kindness. He claimed he couldn’t make up his mind, but was able to tell Dorothy how to take him off the pole, and he was able to decide which direction to take. 

The Tin Man.

He desired a heart from the Wizard of Oz. He used to be a real man and despite his belief that he lacked emotions, he proved to be a kind and sensitive man.

  • He had no physical heart, but he was actually encumbered with such a soft heart that observing pain in anyone else caused him to weep and then lock up. He was always willing to use his axe in the defense of weaker ones, and he put the good of the group ahead of his own personal needs. There were times when others urged him to exercise greater self-regulation so that he could continue functioning without needing constant oiling. In the course of their adventures, he showed love and concern for all the others, and they showed love in return. He already had a heart.

The Cowardly Lion.

He claimed to be a coward and wished for the Wizard of Oz to give him courage. However, he proved to be courageous in many situations throughout the novel.

  • A character whose strengths were working against each other when he is first encountered. His humility and prudence conflict with his personal ideas about valor weighed heavy on him: as a lion, he believed he should be afraid of nothing, but his good sense made him recognize danger. Unfortunately for him, this created a self-defeating vortex. The more he recognized things to be afraid of, the more cowardly he behaved physically, which mades him under-estimate his own valor a bit more, which lowered the threshold of things that made him afraid. Courage was not the absence of fear but the ability to control it. Lion’s gratitude and appreciation for beauty made him appealing to others.

Final thoughts: There are many obvious parallels between the characters in the movie and being a leader but the most important takeaway I believe is to: never doubt who you are, what you have and what you are capable of giving others. Don’t wait for your Dorothy to bring it out of you – start today and turn your weakness into your greatest strength.

The floor is yours: Can a leader lead from their weaknesses AND be successful?

With leadership,

Joshua /

Please ‘Follow‘ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.

change your mindset

Why Leaders Should Embrace An Abundance Mindset

In all my years of working with leaders around “being their best”, I have found the wise words of Steven Covey (from his amazing book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) and his work on adopting an Abundance Mindset to be the best resource.

Leaders are in unique roles, faced with challenging decisions everyday – some immediate and others long term. Having the proper schooling and pedigree helps in arriving at the right decisions, as well as a strong team around you – but in the end, embracing the right mindset can (and will) drive those decisions so it’s critical to understand:

  • What is mindset?
  • The difference between Scarcity vs. Abundance
  • How to adopt an Abundant mindset in the workplace

What is mindset?

Before I move forward, let me explain how “growth mindset” plays a role here since I am often asked about the amazing work of Carol Dweck (and her popular book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success) which states:

  • We have a belief which limits our potential or enables our success. It often marks the difference between excellence and mediocrity. It influences our self-awareness, our self-esteem, our creativity, our ability to face challenges, our resilience to setbacks, our levels of depression, and our tendency to stereotype, among other things. Much of who you are on a day-to-day basis comes from your mindset. Your mindset is the view you have of your qualities and characteristics – where they come from and whether they can change.

These following two mindsets represent the extreme ends on either side of a spectrum.

  • fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.
  • growth mindset comes from the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through effort. Yes, people differ greatly – in aptitude, talents, interests, or temperaments – but everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

The difference between Scarcity vs. Abundance

Hopefully you now can see both how valuable it is to adopt a growth mindset but also instrumental in embracing one full of abundance vs. scarcity. In fact, embodying a growth mindset while coming from a place of scarcity would be the equivalent of driving a sports car at high speeds with the emergency brake on – it would defeat the purpose all together.

“Being” abundant and coming from an abundant mindset can propel a good leader into a great one based on how they approach their roles. The temptation to call it being positive, optimistic or something else is always there but whatever you choose, make sure it embraces the core reasoning that Steven Covey discussed in his book. Another brilliant author, John C. Maxwell summed it up perfectly in from this article about successful leaders:

  • The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of others.
  • The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.

Here’s a great visual to further help you understand the differences between the two mindsets:

How to adopt an Abundant mindset in the workplace

I want to preface that although I am writing this for leaders in the workplace, these actions and principles apply to everyone – including you…yes you! We are all leaders remember? Life doesn’t stop in or out of the workplace. Here are 6 vital and valuable ways to start today:

  1. Raise your self-awareness about your thinking. Practicing mindfulness and mindful breathing can support your ability to pause and examine if your thoughts are coming from a place of scarcity or abundance. Here’s how to being today.
  2. Practice gratitude. I can’t state this enough – being of service and practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful and easy ways to create happiness within yourself and others while embracing an abundant mindset. I ask my clients to keep a gratitude journal to write down the things in their life they are most grateful for. Here’s how to begin today.
  3. Share your gift. When you serve others in a selfless manner, sharing your expertise in an effort to empower others – that is what I like to call paying it forward. This in return emboldens your confidence, spreads your vision and lifts up those around you…win, win and win. Here’s how to begin today.
  4. Check your blind spots. Having a myopic view on things is the equivalent of walking through life with blinders on – leaving you with only 50% of the whole picture. Expanding your viewpoint is dependent on expanding your focal point. Expand your curiosity and ask more questions as this will provide context, clarification and learning. Here’s how to begin today.
  5. Watch your inner circle. We all know we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with so make sure those people are anchors to your ship. Find people who share similar interests, beliefs, goals and oh yes…. mindsets. Here’s how to begin today.
  6. Loose lips, sink ships. The words you use hold incredible power and wielded around without thought and care can cause harm to both people, organizations and even countries. Ask yourself, are you speaking from a place of scarcity or abundance? Here’s how to begin today.

Final thoughts: When you adopt an abundance mindset, opportunities for more learning and successes will become more readily visible, available and ultimately more enriching. Once you start to look for more, you will find more. As Wayne Dwyer said, “abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.”

The floor is yours: How important is a leaders mindset in the workplace?

With leadership,

Joshua /

Please ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.

backbone and wishbone

3 Signs Your Leader Has A Wishbone Not A Backbone

Funny thing about trust: So many want it…So little deserve it…And so few can maintain it.

We put our careers in the hands of strangers with the hope and promise that they will take care of us and develop us professionally but that’s simply not always the case. Employee’s for the most part trust their leaders – many times implicitly without any hesitation…that is of course until it’s broken.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”  Stephen R. Covey

There’s nothing more disappointing then the moment you realize your manager or leader isn’t who you thought they were. It’s disheartening when you so badly want to believe your leader has your back only to find out that they simply aren’t capable or simply don’t want to. I wrote about a similar leadership topic previously titled 11 Ways To Spot Authentic Leadership but todays article is a little different.

Coaching and support regarding poor management and weak leadership is the number one request I receive every week from within my network on Linkedin. So much so that I decided to take these requests, compile them and write this article. Here are the 3 warning signs your leader may not have your back:

They Suddenly Have Amnesia

I get that people have moments of memory lapse but there’s a point in which being overly forgetful is no longer an accident and now a habit. Integrity is everything as a leader of people. Your word is invaluable which is why I was disappointed to hear how many people experienced their leader forgetting something that they openly said either in public, online or in confidence. This sudden case of amnesia has a direct impact on their people’s confidence to confide in them and ultimately impacts their ability to do their job. This showed up with:claiming ideas that weren’t their own, not allowing someone time off who had properly earned it and the number one was forgetting to revisit a conversation around development and/or a promotion. None of these bode well in the eyes of an employee.

They Can’t be Direct

It’s one thing to be direct, it’s an entirely different thing to be cowardly. Everyone I spoke with on this topic had simply wished their leader would’ve had the courage to speak the truth versus sugar coating it or outright lying about it. It takes confidence to lead but it also takes transparency. If you can’t be direct then say nothing until you can. No one likes the feeling of being pushed aside. This showed up with: not approving an employee’s promotion, discussing the state of their organization or team and the number one was having to let someone go.

They Are Not Accountable

Having a leader who says one thing and does another is simply bad optics. Not showing up, either on time or in the office sends the wrong message to your people especially if you discuss how important it is culturally to present in the office. It starts with you and if what you are showing is the opposite of what you want then to get upset with your people is a double standard. Leaders who avoid being responsible have a way of letting their people slide which ultimately ends bad for everyone involved. Being a leader is a full-time role not a part time hobby. This showed up with: being absent when deadlines are most critical (and then only to show up when it’s passed), they push off meetings that are important to you, and the number one was simply over promising and under delivering time and again.

  • Watch the first 1:30 seconds of this hilarious video, you will see all of the qualities play out in this clip from Curb.


Final thoughts: No one is saying you have to be the best leader in the world but you should strive to be the best version of yourself. You owe that to your people and the organization. If your best version is still not enough, then consider getting some support. For the employee, if you’ve been under served, under appreciated or simply thrown under the bus, you have a choice as well and owe it to yourself to change your situation. Here is a great articleoutlining the essential qualities to look for in a great leader.

The floor is yours: Can a leader be successful with low EQ?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Joshua /

Please ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.