The Art of Authentic Leadership

Carol smiles at us

15 Mar The Art of Authentic Leadership

Carol’s Story

I’m currently enjoying the work of Julian Stodd at Sea Salt Learning particularly his perspective on leadership, culture, and organisational change.

At the same time I am in a continuing conversation with Carol, and her story is a lovely example of the transformations that take place when we stop looking through previous-experience, ‘it’s worked in the past’, lenses and begin again from the stance of not-knowing.


There is an art to authentic leadership which, paradoxically, requires focused and razor-sharp communication, efficient meetings, and effective decision-making while, at the same time, valuing collaboration, flexibility and creativity.

Carol’s Story

Carol’s appointment as Assistant Director for Residential Services at Somerset Care in early 2014 was a big step up the career ladder and it came at a difficult time in her life. The decision to relocate to Somerset had been prompted by the desire to be closer to her mum, who was terminally ill, and her dad who was caring for her. The job offer came on the day her mum died.

On reflection Carol acknowledges that the way she began in her new role was based on a misconception, ‘I felt that I had to behave in a certain way to prove that I was capable of doing the job’: it was my pre-conceived idea, born of experience, that ‘this is how directors behave’. It wasn’t working well for Carol, for the organisation, or for her personal life.

Scepticism and Transformation

She joined the InterBe Transformational Leadership programme with some hesitation and scepticism and now acknowledges that she has transformed her life and her work as a result.

When Carol and I speak now she embodies the practices of acceptance, gratitude, vulnerability and creativity, and I’m not surprised to hear that colleagues have described her as personifying the principles of the Transformational Leadership.

Carol is, authentically, a 21st century leader, bringing collaboration, curiosity and creativity to every conversation.

The Lens of Not Knowing

Stodd points to the facility of being able to look at what we know through a lens of not-knowing, acknowledging that we are the creators of the contexts we encounter and being prepared to include a wide and diverse range of viewpoints in those decisions, meetings and conversations.

He describes organisations as being ‘typically curious about moving beyond’ their ‘known strength’ even when their growth and development thus far has relied on the repetition and scaling up of the old, tried and tested, mechanisms of their nineteenth and twentieth century industrial heritage. This moving beyond will require twenty-first century – what Stodd refers to as Social Age – perspectives.

Twenty-first Century Leadership

Twenty-first century leaders embody this new leadership in their commitment to the principles of power-sharing, collaboration, creativity, responsibility and wellbeing. They want people at every level and in every direction; staff, service users, old or young, female, male or gender-free, to enjoy agency in the organisation’s processes, to be and feel empowered; to have a voice in creating the future.


This is why we describe our work as holographic.  Our principle is that everything we design, create and deliver is bound up with and contributes to, both the entire programme and to its every element. It also acknowledges that everything that everyone brings to the experience is a significant contribution, and that the experiences of delegates on our programmes are intrinsically bound up with, and contribute to, their whole experience of being.

If you broke it into tiny pieces, each piece would contain the whole while the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts or, as Aristotle, according to a 1908 translation by W. D. Ross, said…

In the case of all things which have several parts and in which
the totality is not, as it were, a mere heap,
the whole is something besides the parts’

You can read Carol’s story in full on our website

Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog

Systems Engineering Scholar Blog

Sali Mustafic
  • Carol Edwards
    Posted at 17:14h, 15 March Reply

    Sali I would like to acknowledge you for your continued support of my journey which began back in 2014 which might appear on the face of it a long time but in reality a blink of an eye. I remember saying “I don’t do poetry” unbeknown to me one of your great talents being a Poet and now I enjoy writing my own poetry an awesome new part of my life. So my friend to your blog what a wonderful piece of ✍️

    • Sali Mustafic
      Posted at 10:26h, 23 March Reply

      Thank you Carol. It is a pleasure to be alongside you. Long may we continue working and writing together.

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