A Tale of Two Leaders: Authentic Leadership

Today I鈥檇 like to illustrate a few points with a story that plays out in many variations in countless organizations across the globe.

Brad is a hard-working, creative project leader at Vector Software. He and his team have identified a new method of discovering devices on their networks, called NU for Network Ubiquity. This will greatly simplify and shorten their installation process. Unfortunately the state of the economy prevents them from fully developing and integrating the technology in their software product.


The following year Andy, a peer project leader is able to make a case for a significant amount of funding for the next release of their software. He realizes the value of NU technology and instructs his team to develop and implement it.

While Andy and his group do not take credit for inventing the technology, nevertheless, Brad is furious. He feels that his group, as the inventors of the technology, should have been given the task of completing the development. He and his team take issue with the technology and begin to assert that it has many drawbacks and should not be implemented under any circumstances.

As we stand and view this scenario from a distance we can see two unfortunate behaviors Brad is exhibiting. First, he is allowing his ego to take control. He feels that he and his team deserve to bring the product to market since they were the inventors. Secondly, he turns away from what he believes deep down, that NU technology is beneficial to the product and organization.

How do you think others will view Brad at this point? When he speaks how will they know if he really believes in what he is saying? Will he change his tune again next week?

Alternatively, Brad and his team could have felt honored that their technology was being adopted and have offered to help in any way they could. While he may feel that Andy and his team end up looking like heros because they were the ones to implement the technology, those in the know would remember both where it came from and Brad鈥檚 response to the situation. In the long run Brad鈥檚 stature would rise along with Andy鈥檚.

I understand that in many organizations where competitiveness is promoted that Andy could wear his achievement on his shirt sleeves and use it to move ahead of Brad. Such cultures breed leaders who work to promote themselves rather than build great products. The ultimate result is mediocrity and loss of true high performers who choose to work elsewhere. In such a case Brad should ensure his leaders remember who the inventors of NU technology were and allow Andy to gain points for bringing it to market. No matter how toxic the culture is, unless Brad remains true to his values, he will lose credibility and find it harder to recruit and lead high performing team members.


  • Observe yourself to see if your ego is controlling your actions
  • Remain true and authentic in your beliefs and actions

Keywords: leadership, authentic, collaboration

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