“Write for five minutes about yourself.”
That was all. They were the only instructions we were given.
Then we sat together in small groups and read to each other what we had written. I sat with the faculty members who were part of this Catholic healthcare system. They called the five minutes of writing and subsequent sharing a reflection assignment.
I’ve known the people leading this program for five years and heard things in that small group I’d have never imagined about these people (and they likely the same about me).
One was considering leaving the faculty to take a full-time position as a CEO at one of the hospitals. Another talked about the challenges of organizing long-term care for his mother. We also heard about a marriage that had survived against the odds of a sick child in the family – an illness that leads to 80% of marriages in these families failing.
The stories were all so diverse I wondered what the thread might be that tied them together. Then it occurred to me. All the stories were about a deep caring, a level of vulnerability seldom seen in organizations.
What did they have to do with leadership development? I think everything. It’s one thing to talk about authenticity as a core attribute of leadership, a required characteristic of the modern leader. It’s quite another to actually walk this talk.
I’m left with two questions:
1. What situations do you set up in your organization encouraging leaders to be authentic?
2. How often do your leaders step up and take advantage of these opportunities to show their true selves?