Published: August 5, 2011
Jennifer Selby Long, Selby Group
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Who is Paikea?

What does authentic leadership mean to you? For many of the leaders I know, August is the month in which they take their only vacation of a week’s duration or more, making it the perfect time to reflect on the deeper meaning of the word. So this month’s article includes an actual homework assignment, but don’t worry – I’m only asking you to watch a movie. The leader in this movie is one of the finest role models of authentic leadership that I’ve ever seen portrayed on film.

The movie is Whale Rider. The leading actress was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Paikea, the 13-year-old lone heir to the throne of an impoverished Maori tribe on the rugged, beautiful, wind-swept Eastern coast of New Zealand.

I most recently watched Whale Rider on Netflix using instant streaming: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Whale_Rider/60027715?trkid=2361637. Jennifer Selby LongThe movie was quite popular as far as non-Hollywood movies go, so it’s also readily available for purchase from the vendor of your choice.

After you’ve watched the movie, sit down with pen and paper or your laptop, and answer the questions below to stimulate your reflections and thinking about your own authentic leadership.

Leadership growth involves one part awareness and one part action. Answering the questions without taking action won’t change anything.  Taking action without reflecting on the questions will change something, but how would you know you changed the right thing?

So it’s important to next list 2 – 3 steps you will take this month to move forward. For example, if you need to fill gaps in your support system, list the names of people or organizations who can serve in these missing roles, think through how you can also be of support to each of them (or put another way, what’s in it for them if they help you), and put into your calendar the dates on which you will reach out to each of them in sequence to build the relationships and begin to bridge the gap in your support system.

Another example would be if you observe that Paikea is much, much better at dealing with incompetent people than you are. Your first step this month could be simply to research coaches and mentors who can help you diagnose why you are, ironically, not competent at dealing with incompetence – and who could also help you improve greatly in this area. Your second step could be contacting several of these resources, and your third could be to vet them with their references, before ultimately hiring one.

Questions for Reflecting on Authentic Leadership: Whale Rider

Inside: Our Truest Selves

Who is Paikea?

What does she stand for?

What are Paikea’s most deeply held values?

Where does Paikea find her strength? Where does it come from?

Paikea’s grandfather holds extremely limiting beliefs about her, based on the past. Do I hold any limiting beliefs about myself? If so, what are these beliefs? Am I willing to let go of these beliefs in order to become an authentic leader?

No matter how many setbacks she faces, Paikea focuses on a future she can change. Do I focus on a future I can change? If not, am I willing to focus on a future I can change?

Am I willing to trust that it is possible to lead authentically, even if may not be easy to get there?

Outside: How We Apply Our Truest Selves in the World

How does Paikea bring out the best in people? How do I bring out the best in people? What can I learn from her to become better at this?

How does Paikea overcome opposition? How do I overcome opposition? What can I learn from her to become better at this?

How does Paikea deal with people who have doubts about her leadership? People who let her down? People who are incompetent? What can I learn from her about how she handles these universal leadership challenges?

Every leader needs a support system. No leader is an island. Who is in Paikea’s support system? What role does each person play? Who plays these roles in my life? Are any of these roles missing in my life at this point in time? If so, who could fill these missing roles?

The Leader’s Journey

What parallels are there between Paikea’s journey as a leader and my journey as a leader?

Now I have seen Paikea’s story. What is my story? What has it been until today? What do I want my story to be going forward?

 



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