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Find your authentic leadership persona

Just as golfers need to find their perfect swing, leaders need to discover their ideal stengths and persona.

4 min read


Find your authentic leadership persona


Weaving Influence is a full-service digital marketing agency. Since launching 10 years ago, Weaving Influence has helped clients launch more than 150 books, carving its niche in working with authors, thought leaders, coaches, consultants, trainers, nonprofit leaders and speakers to market their services and books. This post is by Lance Tanaka.

What is your true leadership persona and how do you find it? Or in the case of the golf novel and movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” what is your authentic swing?

Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, is Rannulph Junuh’s (Matt Damon) mysterious caddie. Bagger helps Junuh overcome his demons from the war and find himself by discovering his authentic golf swing. Bagger tells him that, in golf, there are a lot of swings to choose from. However, there is only one perfect swing, the authentic swing. He explains:

“Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Something we was born with. Something that is ours and ours alone. Over time the world can rob us of that swing and get buried inside us.”

All we have to do is get out of the way and let it find us. In life and career, that authentic swing is to find your purpose and be more of who you already are, the leader you were meant to be.

What is your authentic swing?

Bagger explains that the hands are a lot smarter than the head will ever be. In golf, you don’t want to be thinking too much. It will only get you in trouble. In finding your authentic swing, your purpose in life, you need to stop your head from getting in the way. Don’t worry about what other people think (not the perfect swing); stop comparing yourself to others or doing what’s always practical (other non-perfect swings).

How do you find your authentic swing, your true leadership persona?

1. Identify your strengths and passions. There are many tools out there that can help you find them.

If you want to be average, fix your weaknesses.

When I was a child, I was poor in math. My parents did what most Asian parents would do. They got me a math tutor. Every night with my tutor I went through hell. After three months of working hard, night after night of feeling stupid, I was able to take my math skills from poor up to slightly above poor.

Then I got into the business world. The end of the year performance appraisal surfaced that I was weak in my analytical planning. So, week after week, month after month, I worked on it. I was able to get my analytical skills up to average. 

What am I becoming? Average.

Now, there is nothing wrong with average. If you want to be average, this is a good approach.

However, many of us want to be exceptional at something. If you want to be distinctive, you need to identify your strengths and leverage them by focusing on developing them even further.

A McKinsey study on centered leadership shows:

“Of all the dimensions of centered leadership, meaning has a significant impact on satisfaction with both work and life; indeed, its contribution to general life satisfaction is five times more powerful than that of any other dimension.”

Leverage not only your strengths but also your passions. These combined with your experiences are a powerful combination.

2. Leverage your strengths, passions and experiences by drilling down to more specifically determine the who, what, where and when for each. This brings more clarity and breaks things down into bite-size, actionable pieces.

3. Get on the path of being more of who you already are by taking action now, moving down that path.

As Bagger says, “Now you come out of the shadows. Time for you to choose. Play the game, your game, the one only you was meant to play, one that was given to you when you come into this world. Now is the time.”

Yes, now is your time. Be that authentic leader!


Lance Tanaka is the founder and managing director of The Lance Tanaka Group and has held top posts in the US and Asia with Pepsi-Cola Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan; he also was vice president of international for Nike-Cole Haan in Hong Kong. His books include “Dream and Achieve—90 Days to a Life of Purpose,” “Stories from the Top: The 8 Core Leadership Challenges and How the Best Executive Overcame Them” and  “Tend to Your Garden.”

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