Be the Authentic Leader You're Called to Be
Updated: Apr 16
“My uncle once told me that during WWII if an unidentified sol
dier appeared suddenly in the dark and could not state his mission, he automatically was shot without question.” Laurie Beth Jones follows this provocative opening in her excellent book, The Path, with an even more provocative question, “I wonder what would happen if we reinstated that policy today?”
Yes, mission statements are THAT important.
“Being confronted,” Jones adds, “with a ‘life and death’ need to know one’s mission would force millions of us to reexamine who we are and what we’re really about…and in the process become fully alive.”
Too many people…too many families…too many organizations think otherwise; never spending time to discover their mission, or unique purpose. Most of us spend more time planning our next summer vacation than we do considering the values and beliefs that will shape our legacy. And, today, it's rare to find nonprofit board members who readily can recite the organization’s mission – much less, their own.
Unfortunately, our digital age of endless distraction, ever-present technology, and superficial relationships, is robbing us of opportunities for the self-reflection where we find our true self [read Dark Skies and the Beginning of Authentic Leadership].
When coaching nonprofit leaders, I start by making sure they know their ‘story of self’. According to Marshall Ganz, this is a personal story that “shows why you were called to what you were called to.” It’s a story of the life experiences, challenges, and values that make each of us what we are today. For leaders, this becomes a compelling invitation for authentic connection with others as you become fully alive and, together, write a new story: the ‘story of us’.
Values-based leadership is about more than the destination. It's guiding, often walking alongside, others in a discovery of the potential - the values, beliefs, abilities, and goodness - within each of us. And, it begins by knowing and living according your unique purpose.
Where can you begin to discover your mission?
Here are a few resources to help you begin a journey toward becoming the authentic, values-based, mission-focused leader/parent/spouse/self you’re called to be:
The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life [Laurie Beth Jones]
Telling Your Public Story [Marshall Ganz]
From Purpose to Impact [Harvard Business Review, 2014]
Create a Personal Mission Statement for the Life YOU Want [productivephysician.com]
There are many, many more good resources out there and I'd love to know any that you have used. Click here to let me know your recommendations.