Goodnews Cadogan – 7 Reasons for Leadership Success on the Back of Courageous Authenticity

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Reasons for Leadership Success on the Back of Courageous Authenticity
By Goodnews Cadogan, C-Level Executive Coach and Advisor to Executive Teams and Boards, 2014-05-14

As part of the coaching service we provide to both individuals and teams at the top of organisations, we assess them before and after the coaching relationship that usually lasts for about two years at the most. The 360 degree assessment we use was developed by Bob Anderson, and can be accessed at and it can be used for all leadership levels, with the Manager Edition for functional managers. As the reference suggests (360), it is a measure of both self and others’ assessment of the leader. Amongst the competencies that we measure, Courageous Authenticity is one of the most revered by peers and followers alike. It is paired with Integrity to contribute to the composite element: Authenticity.
I have observed and listened to leaders, followers and peers alike, lamenting poor display of courageous authenticity by a leader who is a subject of evaluation. There are a number of ways in which a lack of courageous authenticity manifests itself in the leader, both within and externally. Most observers of these leaders highlight the following, as what they are looking for in the ideal leader:

The willingness, both in one-on-one engagements and in group meetings, to affix their proverbial flag to the mast, in support of a well-considered position

  • When all has been considered, someone has to take the lead to ensure a decision is made and though it may not be the     most popular, it should be the best, based on the intention or the desired outcomes. The choice may be policy-driven, or values-driven, and consistent with the desired system-outcome. Most leaders capitulate in the face of pressure (which may not necessarily be driven by what is best for all) and desire to be popular, thereby make the wrong choices when it matters most.

The courage to bring up the ‘undiscussables’ and break the cycle of a downward spiral that may be influenced by the fear to be seen to be going against the generally accepted norms. These norms, in all cases, bear no resemblance to the espoused values of the organisation the leader is serving

  • There may be an issue that has crept into either a certain behaviour that is contrary to the adopted value system, or erratic decision-making that shows lack of focus, with most in the group or team, having accepted that as a norm. It is a leader with courage that will be able to break the cycle and get all to change and remember what the organisation is all about.

The leader must be more able to deal with relationships issues and be at ease with sharing their own vulnerabilities when dealing with others, whatever the situation.

  • Most leaders are not aware of what the much acclaimed coach in Marshall Goldsmith, wrote about in his book: “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There”. Leaders come up the ranks to levels that require them to give up what they excelled in, because the new level at which they operate requires them to suddenly master a new set of competencies. One of the competencies that is required more of the leader, as they goes up the ladder, is relationship management. It is the other side of the coin: task achievement and it places a high demand on the leader to be more able to collaborate and influence others to change their views about deeply held beliefs. In South Africa (to a certain extent, globally) we have variables of race, gender, class and disability, playing a major role in the leader’s ability to deal with relationships. This certainly, as all stakeholders are more discerning in this regard, will make or break a leader’s career as their judgement is called upon to emerge as a critical differentiator in this regard.

Courageous authenticity calls for leaders to be more able to deal with risky situations, authentically and directly, whatever the perceived danger.

  • Turning the tide, shifting levels of consciousness of both peers and bosses, changing the way business sustainability is seen within the system of capitalism as we know it, requires bold leaders like Nelson Mandela, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Otto Scharmer, Michael Porter, Paul Polman, Bill George, Maya Angelou, and a few more, who are starting to share their own newfound beliefs. Not only have they seen current short-term business models as being unsustainable, they are doing (some did) something about it, and they are the evangelists of ‘new-think’. They are changing (some have changed) the way leaders see their role in solving intractable societal and business problems.

I have also heard from most of these leaders, justifying and defending their behaviour (being less courageous and authentic) in this regard. Some of what they say suggests that they find safety and comfort in the approval of others, whatever the intentions of group-think may be. This will certainly be detrimental to the achievement of the mission on which the incumbent leader accepted their role.

Now, what you have been waiting for, the 7 reasons why you ought to display courageous authenticity, for inner peace, task achievement, building a resilient culture and creating High Performance Teams, Organisations and Nations, are listed herein below:

  1. You will have inner peace that is not influenced by seeking validation by others for higher self-worth to register within. You will no longer be held hostage to others’ selfish judgment.
  2. Truth to self, others and to power will be the source of your leadership effectiveness. Leaders of high integrity achieve more out of their leadership life. They do not fear to push the boundaries.
  3. It will be easy for others to follow you for they can see by your own example, and it is easy for you to give feedback because your beliefs and the values of your organization come alive in consistent decisions and actions. They will trust you!
  4. “To live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy” ~ this will be an easy journey for you, because you will have accepted the light and the dark side of self. It will be easy for you to receive and give negative feedback, whilst not filtering it, without breaking the other’s self-esteem.
  5. When your followers trust you, they will be more committed to achieving more. You will be the most successful leader in your chosen field. In situations where you have to exit the system due to incongruent values, it will be easy to get into another system or organization, for your reputation will have preceded you, as they say.
  6. There will be fewer ‘undiscussables’ in the organization or team that you serve, thereby making it difficult for people problems to fester and paralyse the creative ability of the team members. This will be so, as a result of the ‘nothing to hide, or hide from’ currency you will have created for self and others.
  7. Finally, it will be easier for you to negotiate difficult agreements that may otherwise have been clouded by your own inconsistency, or that of the rest of the people with whom you live and work.


In conclusion, I believe that for any leader to be able to display high levels of transformational leadership, which in simple terms, is the ability to perform difficult tasks (like cutting expenditure budgets extensively, or ramping up income revenue, or even negotiating tough changes in behavior, or values alignment, as well as even embarking on a new business venture), and make cause to happen for a big system to shift, they have to be authentic and courageous at the same time. Without courageous authenticity, no leader can change anything, even self. As the human race, we are doomed, literally, if we cannot develop courageous authenticity, at the crests of all human existence. Where leadership is a way of life, rather than a position, this demand is placed on both leaders and followers, equally.
In the next article, I will spend in-depth analysis of the twin to Courageous Authenticity (that is Integrity), as a driver of leadership success.

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