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Leadership Conference Closing Session Presenter Shares Six Steps to Become an Authentic Leader
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 6:45 AM

Every leader has a story. It is a collection of events, perspectives, and behaviors that represent who they are as a leader. It grows, evolves, and changes. It lives in both words and actions. As Timothy Tobin, Ed.D, vice president of Global Learning and Leadership Development with Marriott International, Inc., explains it, your leadership story is the intersection between what you believe your story to be and others’ interpretations. Authentic leadership, he says, is the result of these views being both aligned and accurate.

Tobin is the closing session presenter at the Cornerstone Credit Union League’s Sept. 4-6 Leadership Conference & Expo in San Antonio. His session is titled, “Strategies to Become an Authentic Leader.” Tobin shares with Leaguer readers six steps to help you develop your leadership story:

  1. Develop an idea: Every leader needs to have an answer to the question, “What kind of leader would I like to be?” Sometimes the answer is based on your experiences with past bosses; sometimes it’s the product of your successes and failures in trying to lead others.
  1. Report the story. While your take on your leadership style is important, it needs to be tested against the perspective of others — those you lead. These are your leadership story’s “sources,” whose feedback can help you identify the gap between your assessment of your leadership style and the reality of its impact.
  1. Focus your story. The most important question a reporter can ask before beginning to write is: “What is this story really about?” For the leader, the answer can help organize the information you’ve gathered from your sources and prioritize how you’ll use it.
  1. Organize the story. Now that you know what the story is about, you can identify the areas you most want to work on. The rewrite of your leadership story can emphasize behaviors that could improve your effectiveness as a communicator; for example, more attention to listening, fewer memos and more spoken messages, a determination to treat people’s ideas with more respect, etc.
  1. Draft the story. In all likelihood, making changes to your leadership style will take time. That’s why it’s important to see your first attempts at changing a behavior as a draft — a work in progress. Look for progress and try to identify what helps you; similarly, be conscious of what causes you to fall into old habits. And most importantly, check back with your sources to see if they notice any changes.
  2. Revise the story. Over time, based on your own evaluation and what your sources tell you, you can adjust your tactics. The key is to keep sight of the goal and the fact that achieving it requires you to do something.

“Writing your leadership story requires a healthy dose of humility,” Tobin says. “Asking others to honestly assess the effectiveness of your leadership can be sobering. But looking back and realizing you passed up the opportunity to become a better leader also can be sobering.”

Online registration for Cornerstone’s Leadership Conference & Expo has opened. If you are planning to attend, please register by June 30 to secure the best conference rate.

If you have any questions about the Leadership Conference & Expo, please contact Training & Events, at (469) 385-6630 or (800) 442-5762, ext. 6630.

Educational grants are available through the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. To learn more, please visit