Panel Discussion: How to be an 'Authentic' Leader

Be authentic. Be honest. Be true to yourself.

authentic1This was the overarching theme at the Authentic Leadership Panel on April 26, 2013 at the Rasmussen College Blaine campus. The panel discussed how to be a genuine leader – one that motivates, supports and drives others.

The panel was made up of John Kriesel, director of Veteran Services for Anoka County, Chris McIntosh, president/CEO of 100 LLC, and Trenda Boyum-Breen, chief academic officer at Rasmussen College.

A packed room full of attendees listened to a series of questions and answers, took notes and asked question themselves. Here’s some of the top four questions asked during the event.

What makes a good leader?

Kriesel said a good leader is one that doesn’t always take the easy path.

“There’s always going to be that hard right and easy wrong,” said Kriesel. “It’s hard to take the [more difficult road], but you’re setting yourself up for success if you do.”

“To me, leadership is about being inspiring, motivating and authentic,” said McIntosh. “A good leader is the bi-product of one’s core values. You’re either an authentic person or you’re not. Your authenticity has potential to resonate with people you work with because you’re real.”

How can you be successful at work? How do ethics tie in?

“Don’t start meetings with a task,” said Boyum-Breen. “I try to get to know the people I meet with regularly. It’s important to trust those on your team and foster the culture that you have. I want them to feel free to live authentically with me. I also try to remember that not everybody thinks or acts like me.”

Regarding ethics, the group said it is at the center of everyone’s being; it is something that people will be continuously tested on in both their personal and professional lives.

“My core value is honesty,” said McIntosh. “I just will not lie to people. I’ve learned it’s OK to say you don’t have the answer right now, and then reflect on it. All you can do is be as professional and honest as possible.”

Where did your leadership style come from?

Kriesel said he looks at things much clearer now since both his legs were amputated after a roadside bomb exploded while serving in Iraq with the National Guard. “There’s brevity of life now,” he said.

“My life events have made me more empathetic,” Boyum-Breen said. “I understand ‘you’, and maybe that has helped my leadership.”

“For me, it’s the consistency to lead,” McIntosh said. “Over the years, I just became far more comfortable in my own skin.”

How do you define success?

“I define success by the look in the eyes of my two daughters,” Boyum-Breen said. “My motherhood is the definition of my success.”

“I have three kids ages 4, 6, and 8, and I hope I’ll look at my kids one day and see they’re good people,” McIntosh said.

“If both my boys still want to hang out with me when they’re teens, I’ll be happy,” Kriesel said. “Parenting is how I define success because they’re the ultimate integrity check.”authentic2

During the discussion, Rasmussen College graduate Jennifer Wiechman said, “I know now authentic leaders are confident, but humble. I can see where having that confidence will open doors and will lead me to become an effective leader.”

At the end of the event, people visited and networked. Campus Director Patty Sagert held a drawing for Kriesel’s book “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel”. 

External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Jennifer is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about learning and higher education and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

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