Authentic and Selfless Leadership

I’m always interested in hearing how other people put authentic leadership into practise.

Today’s video is all about a wonderful (and true story) about authentic leadership in action. It’s actually called the Dutch Admiral Principle.

Watch the Video Here: Authentic & Selfless Leadership

The Dutch Admiral Principle

Not long ago, there were two junior officers in the Dutch Navy who made a pact. They decided that when they were at the various navy social functions, they would go out of their way to tell people what a great guy the other guy was. They did not do this for any other motive.

They’d appear at cocktail parties or dances and say, “What an unbelievable person Charlie is. He’s the best man in the Navy.” Or, “Did you hear about the brilliant idea George had?”

They revealed this pact to the public the day they were both made admirals – the two youngest admirals ever appointed in the Dutch Navy.”  – Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life by Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy.

I love this story. It’s one where the ego gets put to one side and the focus is on the success of another.  There’s nothing more powerful than being spoken of in high volumes by someone else.

One aspect of authentic leadership is in how we promote others, focus on crediting others for their role and being concerned about their overall wellbeing and success.

Selfless Leadership

Take my friend. She became aware of another friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer with a family and husband who works away. My friend has set about organising a food rota. Loads of people signed up – and she refused to accept any compliments – stating anyone would do it. I doubt many people would have leapt so quickly to help and support. She is someone who I know leads an incredibly selfless life. Especially as she works full time – most of it travelling the length and breadth of Britain.

Being selfless and being authentic is not about being soft. It takes courage and resilience to truly put the needs of others ahead of your own. I heard a story a few weeks ago about a CEO of a large well-known high street retailer. Whenever a new member of his team joined him he would ask:

“How can I be the best boss you have ever had?”

What a fantastic question. He didn’t just ask it once. He asked it each and every time there was  a one to one with members of his team. So how can you start to lead selflessly and authenticially?

Here are some practical suggestions:
  1. Let others know about someone you think is doing a great job. Speak up for them in a meeting, send a card of thanks.
  2. Put a recommendation on Linked In. And don’t ask for one in return.
  3. Now for the tough ones: ask your team “How can I be the best boss you’ve ever had?”
  4. Next ask your kids. How could I be a better mother or father?
  5. Finally, ask your parents. How could I be a better son or daughter? You get the picture.

And, I’d like to finish with this quote (unknown):

“People with pain, will remember to take their pain-killers. People with aspirations often forget to take their vitamins.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *