Authentic Leadership Attributes Impressed Upon my 6 Year-old Self

January 27, 2014
My 6 Year-old Self

My 6 Year-old Self

There are four key positive psychological attributes that have an impact on authentic leadership: confidence, hope, optimism, and resilience, which have been drawn from the fields of positive psychology and positive organizational behavior.  Positive attributes predispose or enhance a leader’s capacity to develop the components of authentic leadership (Northouse, 2012, p. 264).

The attribute of confidence relates to self-efficacy; the belief that you have the ability to succeed.  Hope relates to desiring a positive outcome.  Optimism relates to the tendency to view situations in a positive light.  Resilience suggests that one has the capability to recover from and adjust to adverse events.

In my little world, roles models were formed through my primary contacts:  parents, siblings and teachers.   I did not have a role model outside of this sphere of my life.  That was until I met Terry Fox.  Terry was running through Parry Sound on his Marathon of Hope and he stopped to greet his supporters, give a media interview and collect funds for cancer research.  There wasn’t a particularly large crowd of supporters that turned out to greet him, but he addressed us with such self-assurance that you would have thought that he was a professional orator addressing a throng of thousands.

Terry exuded confidence.  His heartfelt message was one of hope – Hope to complete his cross-Canada run. Hope to increase cancer awareness.  Hope to find a cure for osteosarcoma.

All of the children in the audience, including myself, were awed by his presence.  His ambition to run across Canada seemed fantastical.  Daring.  Lofty.  His goal was totally and utterly incomprehensible to us.  “He is planning on running through the Rockies?, one boy asked in bewilderment, as if Terry had never considered the terrain ahead.

The adults in the crowd seemed reserved, even worrisome.   One man in particular, with judgement in his voice, asked Terry if he actually thought that he could make the cross-country trek.  I will never forget Terry’s answer: Terry logically described the distance from Newfoundland to Victoria as 8,530 kms.  He explained that he had already run over 3,000 kms in order to make it to Parry Sound from St. John’s.  Then he became emphatic as he described that would continue to pursue his goal, running but one mile at a time.

Terry appeared to have no doubt as to his ability to succeed.  He spoke of nothing but optimism for the future.  He truly made a remarkable and life-long impression on me.

[Of note, “A Single Dream.  A World of Hope” is the slogan for the Terry Fox Foundation; a campaign that to date has raised over $600 million for cancer research].

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.

Terry Fox Foundation. (2013). The Terry Fox Foundation – Mission Statement and History. Retrieved from The Terry Fox Foundation: