Going for Gold: What Authentic Leaders and Olympians Have in Common

I know I’m not alone in being obsessed with the summer Olympics in Rio. More than 200 countries and 10,000 athletes coming together to test their abilities, putting aside political, cultural and philosophical differences. Overcoming injuries, exhaustion, waning motivation, extraordinary competition and financial constraints.

The discipline, passion and hard work on display is such an inspiration – especially when you consider that very few of these athletes can make a career out of their sport. Of course, there are a few –

Michael Phelps and Simone Biles come to mind – who can parlay their extraordinary achievements into sponsorships, speaking engagements and financial security.

But they are the exception.

For the vast majority of athletes, Olympic fame fades quickly. They will return to their homes, or to college, to their jobs and families, and normal life will resume.

For this reason, it is these athletes that I admire the most. These athletes must find the internal drive to be the best without hope of riches or fame. Their reward comes from setting an audacious goal – making the Olympic team or winning an Olympic medal – and then making a plan to achieve it.

This is where authentic leaders and Olympic athletes share similar qualities. There are no medals waiting for authentic leaders at the end of a project. Authentic leaders willingly give their all, go to bat for their team, have crucial and honest conversations day in and day out without any promise of promotions, rewards or recognition.

Doing great work, learning new skills and helping others achieve success are the rewards of an authentic leader. They derive a great deal of satisfaction from developing others. In short, their passion for excellence is its own reward.

If you are striving to win an Olympic gold medal – or more realistically, become an authentic leader – see below for your leadership plan:


  • Be a Great Coach – Authentic leaders know when to lead, when to follow and when to ask for help. So do great coaches. Be a coach who sets clear expectations, allows for open discussion and clears obstacles for your team.
  • Get a Great Coach – A great coach will encourage you, but he or she will also know your limits and push them. Find a coach who can both motivate you and be honest with you about your impact on others.
  • Have a Great Plan — Create a roadmap for your success. Document your personal goals and understand how you will measure your success. Make sure you build in flexibility on your path to achievement, and strategies for overcoming obstacles.
  • Help Others Build a Great Plan – When helping team members build a plan, be as specific as possible. Drill down to measurable, incremental goals. Integrate the goals of individual team members into the larger team plan.
  • Build a Great Team – Pay attention to the people with whom you surround yourself. Make sure they share your goals and your core values. And, perhaps more importantly, your team members should have different and complementary strengths and weaknesses to yours.
  • Survey Team Trust – The proof is in the data. Survey your team members to gauge trust and transparency levels. Take steps to be more authentic and open with your direct reports.

In our experience, authentic leaders go for the gold every day. And let’s face it – our society and organizations need many more of them. If you are interested in stretching yourself as a leader and going for gold, we are here for you https://www.powersresourcecenter.com/train-the-trainer-denver-boulder-colorado/

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