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Erik Mazzone

Great post, Stephanie. I haven't read the HBR article, but I have a couple of observations based on your post.

First, it seems to be the conventional wisdom that the best way to research leadership is to ask "leaders" how they learned "leadership." Aside from the problematic issue of which "leaders" were chosen to interview, this research methodology presumes that these leaders will be the best reporters of what makes their leadership work. In the vein of 360 evaluations, it is my opinion that asking the folks following leaders what works and why is a far superior way to go about an inquiry of this sort. Just like Tiger Woods uses coaches because, while being a great golfer, he can't critique his own swing.

Second, while I believe authenticity is a good quality in people, including leaders, I don't like the conclusion this research draws: namely, that increasing one's "authenticity" is the ticket to better leadership. This focuses a leader internally, on finding out more of what makes him/her special. Rather, I think people in leadership positions could benefit from focusing more on the people they serve.

StephanieWestAllen

Thanks, Erik. I agree with your concern about the methodology. I am not a big fan of self reporting; there are so many possible ways it can be biased or inaccurate, either consciously or unconsciously by interviewer or interviewee. I also agree that focusing on the people served is important. And I agree with the Stanford group that self-awareness is critical; without it, the leader would not be aware that he or she was not focusing on the people being served.

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