Real Leadership: Defining Your Personal Leadership Paradigm

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you…It doesn’t happen all at once,’ You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”

It didn’t happen all at once. Somewhere along the line, I began the journey toward REAL. Lately, it’s occurred to me that no matter what, my calling is growing leaders. Extraordinary, fearless leaders, working toward great ends. Not just in my day job, but in the world too. There are so many humans “up to something” great. I want to help. Next came how. Then what. That’s the journey.

I used to dicker over competency models, what was more important, “results orientation” or “results focus.” Who cares. Now, I’m just pragmatic. For God’s sake (and others) pick one. NOW. Pick a framework and start growing leaders towards it.

What’s REAL Leadership?

In my upcoming posts, I’ll share with you my 4-pronged REAL model: Results, Energy, Authenticity, Learning.

More importantly, I want you to reflect on your leadership paradigm.
  • What’s growing on your tree?
  • Where did the seeds begin?
  • What are you growing toward?
  • What’s your leadership paradigm?

I’ll share my model as instigation. Fight with me, challenge me. Expand my thinking. Help me to be more REAL in my leadership and inspiration. Share yours. What’s REAL for you. Let’s grow together.

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P.S. Tomorrow, I start a three part series on the “Results” branch of the model. Feel free to add links to any related posts in your comments as well.

*Image copyright 2013 Let’s Grow Leaders

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. I look forward to the series. I read the tag words to this post and the first one is “authenticity” and that is obviously an important quality for any leader. There is quite a lot of energy exerted in being authentic. “Now I have to be humble” “Now I have to explain better” “Now I need to work on being a leader and admit I’m not fully grown” “Now I have to be vulnerable and let others peek inside” “Now I have to pick up my kids from soccer and drive them across town to the banquet”. A lot of energy being authentic, but it is still easier than living as someone else. I am glad you developed, Karin, over the past years to begin to working on your calling. There may still be resistance, but it is energy affirming resistance, growth enabling resistance, and it is the best way to go.

  2. David, Thanks so much for your great addition. Yes, authenticity is such an important part of leadership. It’s the “A” my thinking on REAL. You give some great examples. Authenticity is complex and tricky. As always, wonderful to have you in the conversation.

  3. For most of my life, I have tried to remain focused on the importance of learning. This is something we can all do, but I find a very small number are actually doing it. Once people graduate the forget the importance of continuing their education through reading. One of my favorite interview questions is, “What was the last nonfiction book you read?” The answer lets you know where someone is and whether they value reading to improve themselves. With all of the technology available today, there have never been the amount of resources to learn from so readily available. I recently wrote about a few of the podcasts I listen to each week.

  4. Dave, I am glad you shared your link. Thank you. I agree wtih you that podcasts are an excellent free resource for learning. I have tried to sprinkle a few podcasts into my LGL messaging… I find those are not nearly as popular as the traditional posts. It’s a longer investment in time, and harder to skim for what you are looking for. I am curious as to others thoughts on the benefits of podcasts.

    • I would agree with your assessment regarding the production of podcasts and their value. I think for those who do them, they would say the transcript is as important, if not more important than the actual podcast. This is a step which comes with a cost, but may be well worth the investment. I believe Michael Hyatt talked about his podcasting process in a blog post. Regardless, I have listened to several of yours and if your thoughts direct you to needing a way for your readers to scan the material, maybe a virtual assistant to transcribe the material is a possible solution.

  5. Hi Karin, As I read your post I started thinking that the only journey is the one toward real. Love the quote.

    I believe we have a maker who made us for a purpose. The path toward real honors our maker.

    Have a great week.

    • Dan, Thanks so much. I believe we are God’s hands and feet. The more real we can show up, the better we serve. So glad to have you expanding the conversation.

  6. Karin, I must say that I can’t wait to read the three coming parts. I do not wish to speculate at this stage. For example, what shall you discuss under Authenticity? But, I see great ideas popping out.
    I want to extend your Model to what I have written before with the idea of comparing, modifying, learning, adapting, conflicting, agreeing and suggesting.

  7. What a great idea, Karin to look at our personal leadership model! I love that Velveteen Rabbit quote and I was just thinking about this morning. How strange is that! Looking forward to sharing in your dialogue! My leadership begins and ends with my core values and looking for the gifts and talents in others.

    • Terri, So glad to see you hear. That is pretty strange that we both had the Velveteen Rabbit on our brains 😉 I am excited to have you share in the dialogue. If you have related posts on any of the topics, please feel free to link to share. Yes, core values and gifts… such an important place to start. Namaste.

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