3 Thought Leaders Whose Work Can Help You Lead More Authentically


Leaders must be trustworthy beyond reproach if they hope to elicit remarkable performance. If we endeavor to earn trust and keep it, we must reflect on the best ways to lead authentically and with integrity. Having a clear code that guides our behaviors and decision making helps us keep perspective when things are going well and helps us take the high ground when faced with adversity.

Developing a set of principles that guides our leadership is no simple feat. It requires reflecting inwardly to connect to our purpose — as well as looking externally for thought leaders whose wisdom can help us to learn about ourselves, our leadership, and how we choose to walk in the world. Here are 3 smart and inspiring thought leaders whose work has helped me to further clarify my personal leadership philosophy.

1. Susan Cain, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m an introverted leader. I can proudly say that now, but it wasn’t always that way. I’ve learned the importance of declaring my introversion to the people with whom I work — as well as declaring what I believe in, and how I operate. This way, people know right away what to expect from a working relationship with me, the mystery is removed, and we can move forward productively. Susan Cain’s work in bringing introversion to the forefront has been enormously helpful to contributors of all temperaments – both extroverts and introverts. Her book, while it specifically celebrates introverts, ultimately commends the uniqueness of all types by reminding us that, “staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work that you love and work that matters.” I encourage you to explore her excellent book if you are searching for ways to be more fully yourself in your leadership.

2. Brené Brown, Research Professor at The University of Houston and New York Times Bestselling Author

Brené Brown’s impeccably researched findings about human nature reveal a truth leaders should heed: it takes courage to let go of the idea of who you “think” you should be and to be who you really are — but it is the only way to forge meaningful connections with people. If you’re encountering roadblocks in inspiring trust, confronting vulnerability, or connecting to your leadership, I heartily recommend her work to you. Every revelation she has about human behavior is anchored in data and research, which can make it more accessible for cerebral or literally-minded leaders. But she also infuses her insights with personal stories that bring the ideas to life in a relatable way; she brings both the “head” and the “heart” into the vulnerability conversation in a nuanced and impactful way.

3. Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders

Karin Hurt champions what she calls, “confident humility” as a virtue that can help leaders better engage a workforce and inspire high-performance. When you approach your leadership from a place of unmistakable competence matched with transparent humility — you can admit you don’t know it all while gently pushing for optimal outcomes in the marketplace. If you’re hoping to relate to your team on a more human level, you may find her work helpful. To learn more about confident humility, visit her blog.

I’d like to hear from you: Which though leaders have inspired you to lead more authentically?

(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo under this license).

Authentic Leadership, books, Brene Brown, Doug Conant, humility, insights, introverts, Karin Hurt, leadership, leadership development, Managing Yourself, reflection, Susan Cain, thought leaders,
  • Let’s Grow Leaders

    Doug, Thanks so very much. I’m deeply honored to be included in your post along with such excellent company.

    • DouglasConant

      Karin — thank you for your work. Your notion of “confident humility” resonates nicely with my personal leadership philosophy.

  • David M. Dye

    Three wonderful suggestions, Doug on a vitally important leadership principle!

    • DouglasConant

      @davidmdye:disqus Nice to see you here, thanks for reading — glad you enjoyed.

  • Karena May

    Enjoyed this, thanks Douglas.

    • DouglasConant

      Karena, thank you — so glad you enjoyed the post.