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Authentic leadership


By subscribing to the tenants of spirituality, the role of leadership is relegated to the sphere of caring. Authentic leadership operates from love, compassion and interconnectedness to all things. The strength of authentic leadership is gentleness. Chief Leonard Shenandoah of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy has this to say about the greatest power. “I myself have no power. It’s the people behind me who have the power. Real power comes only from the Creator. It’s in His hands. But if you’re asking about strength, not power, then I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness.”[1]


Authentic leadership comes from the moral force of character. Mother Teresa’s moral force of character was no match for the patriarchal Catholic Church. The moral force of Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The moral force of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who Lincoln called “the little lady that started the civil war”, awakened people to the injustices of slavery.


Authentic leaders exert their moral force at all times. According to Sharif Abdullah, “They are always interacting with people at the level of the deep knowledge of their moral energy. Being true to themselves, they are practicing and living their authenticity.”[2] As we meld our spiritual lives with our political lives, we can look beyond the narrow base of our present beliefs and our limited vision of future possibilities. Indeed, from the core of our authentic selves we will claim our power, not the ability to dominate another, but the power of conscious wisdom inherent within each of us: the power to change and to create a new, better world.


By caring for all life and by recognizing our interconnectedness, we will gain authentic power and leadership. By subscribing to the tenants of spirituality, the role of leadership will be relegated to the sphere of caring. Authentic leadership will operate from the Buddha’s and Jesus’ teachings of peace, love, and compassion.

[1] Wall, Steve and Arden, Harvey, 1990, Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders, Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, Oregon.


[2] Abdullah, Sharif, 1990. The Power of One: Authentic Leadership in Turbulent Times. Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, California.

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