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Brenda Johnson: How Authentic Leader changed me as a leader

Brenda Johnson

Brenda Johnson

Editor’s note: Brenda Johnson is CEO of La Clinica, Wings’ parent organization. She completed Authentic Leader in 2010 and plans to take the seminar again in this summer.

I remember when I approached leadership and my role as a CEO as exactly that—a role.  I wore it like a coat of armor. I thought I had to appear a certain way and perform a certain task to be successful. I read all the right leadership literature, modeled my style after iconic leaders, constantly yearned for this mysterious myth of a “work/life balance,” and exhausted myself when I couldn’t find it.

I knew that I couldn’t sustain the pace I was running and that by investing in my own development, I was investing in the organization that I care deeply about. I looked at several leadership programs. My criteria for selection was that it met me where I was at developmentally and was a valuable use of time and resources.

Authentic Leader was just that. I gained specific tools that I could immediately integrate into my leadership practices and take back to my organization. Vital tools I learned and practiced supported me in several areas that are critical in my work as a leader of a large organization, including:

  • Public speaking skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leading with confidence
  • Team development and reaching agreements
  • Exploring vision, trusting it, and creating synergies with others
  • Managing emotional reactivity
  • Navigating complex communication and relationships
  • Holding accountability for performance
  • Leading with grace and strength

Much more than practicing skills, though, I gained insights into how I was influencing the environment in ways I hadn’t realized, and I became much more aware of the kind of impact I wanted to have. Setbacks and successes, conflicts and resolution, limited resources and abundance, communication and more communication are all aspects of organizational life that I now navigate from a place of authenticity, clarity, and creativity. I believe wholeheartedly that the work of leadership is an “inside out” job, and Authentic Leader was the course that helped me see me and set course for the leader I am today.

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