Day 4: Leadership as agency

Activity 9: Refining our activist leadership 

Day 4: Leadership as agency

Activity 9: Refining our activist leadership 

1 hours 30 minute


To help us to:

  • Explore the personal qualities of authentic leadership
  • Develop a personal leadership development plan

Task 1
Individual work: Updating and refining your own leadership plan

1 hour

Remembering your map that you developed at the start of this fellowship – of where you want to be in 3 to 5 years – this activity offers you time to work on a Personal Leadership Development Plan. You will only share your writing in plenary if you wish to.

Use your journal as a private place to reflect on each of the sections of questions below. Alternatively, write into this guide and then later you can cut the pages out and paste them into your journal. If you use your journal, be sure to give headings to each section and even rewrite the questions and tables in your journal, so that you can actively use and return to your plan.

There are 5 sections:

  1. Values
  2. Leadership principles
  3. Ethical boundaries
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Hazards of leadership tendencies

Task 2
Plenary: What is authentic leadership?

30 minutes

In plenary, we will have an interactive conversation to distil what we take away from this reflection and planning exercise on what to be mindful of in our authentic leadership striving.

1. Creating a Personal Leadership Development Plan

Creating a Personal Leadership Development Plan can help you to identify leadership skills that you may still need to refine or acquire.  Through this fellowship we have emphasised how leadership is the acceptance of the responsibility to support and facilitate others to act. We have also emphasised that issues such as values, principles and ethics are at the core of authentic leadership; and that the practice of authentic leadership requires a consistent leadership through a Freirean action-reflection-learning-action cycle with:

  • Unwavering confidence and trust in the capabilities of those we are in social struggle with
  • Agreement on shared values 
  • Building relations and collective commitments
  • Viewing leadership authority as co-accountability not power over others 
  • Strategising and strengthening strategic capacity 
  • Taking action and implementing agreed plans 
  • Adjusting and refining plans and actions in a collective manner as the situation evolves 

2. Values

Values are those central beliefs that both define and animate your very being. It is those beliefs that are so integral to who you are, no matter what the circumstances are. Values are personal and are based on what you mostly care about. Living your values enables you to make sound decisions. More importantly, values enable others to trust you. We are deeply shaped by our values and how well we live by them. Practicing your values consistently brings meaning to your work and life. Living and practicing your values make you authentic. Although not all values are shared by all leaders, integrity is a value that is required for one to be an authentic leader. Other examples of values are fairness, honesty, respect for others, compassion, empathy, tolerance and teamwork. 

What values are most important to you?
Rank Value Definition of value

3. Leadership principles 

Leadership principles are nothing else but values in practice. They make our values, actionable. They help us live our values and make them measurable. They allow for feedback on our values.

In real life situations, our core values are tested. It is in these situations that leadership principles become valuable. An example of the usefulness of leadership principles is how when challenged in leading fairly, principles such as transparency and co-accountability become your guide. Accountability and truthfulness are important principles to support integrity, as a value, and remembering that the truth is always concrete and factual. There are not different sides or versions of the truth. Leadership principles, therefore, define ways in which we apply our values in our everyday lives. 

What leadership principles support your values?
Value In what situation(s) is your core value tested? Leadership principles to help you honour your core value

4. Ethical Boundaries

As a leader, there may be times when you cannot put your leadership principles into practice. A good example of this may be when you face conflicts among your values.  Under these circumstances, you may be forced to choose one value over the other another. It’s during these moments when your ethical boundaries represent the clear line in the sand that you will not cross, no matter what. Without clear ethical boundaries, leaders may find themselves compromised. Explicit ethical boundaries are the final line of defence against acting against your values.  The boundaries provide clear, concrete limits on your actions, in line with your core values.

4.1 As a leader, I will never…


4.2 Looking at your life history and biography, describe a situation in which your ethical boundaries were tested. 


4.3 How did you respond? 


4.4 What will you do differently if you are confronted with a similar situation in the future? 


4.5 What are the ethical boundaries that will guide you as a leader?


5. Self-Awareness 

The starting point of leadership is self-awareness – the capacity for introspection and ability to identify your strengths and weaknesses. As a leader, to gain a better understanding of who you are, it is important to reflect on your actions. Seeking feedback is the single most effective way to increase self-awareness. Self-awareness is also the ability to recognise and understand your moods, emotions, what drives you, and the impact you have on others. Without self-awareness there will be nothing to anchor your journey, orient yourself, and know if you are losing or finding your way. Self-awareness is a pre-requisite for growth.

5.1 Based on all the work you’ve done to this point, list your top five areas for improvement.


5.2 What are some concrete ways you can become more self-aware? 


5.2 How comfortable are you with yourself? What can you do to become more self-accepting and content? 


Overcoming the hazards of leadership tendencies 

There are five patterns argued to be destructive behaviour associated with leadership: 

  1. Being an imposter: A leader who has doubt and lacks confidence (imposter syndrome). Such a leader, attacks critics and does not take kindly to negative feedback. 
  2. Rationalising: A leadership approach that either denies the existence of problems or blames others when things go wrong. 
  3. Glory seeking: Glory seekers are leaders who are more concerned with their status and reputation than they are with building teams or organisations. 
  4. Playing the loner: A leader who avoids close relationships, mentors, support networks, peers and teamwork.
  5. Being a shooting star: A leader who rapidly rises through the ranks or who is so busy so that you never have time to learn from your mistakes (action-drunk leadership).
How do you overcome these hazards of leadership tendencies
Hazard Steps to slowly shift this tendency
Being an imposter  
Glory seeking  
Playing the loner  
Playing the loner  

In closing your reflection, think about and write down 3 steps that you want to take, to address your particular leadership tendencies that you know need addressing: