Authentic Leadership

Leo 2006

Much has been written over the years about leadership, and of late about the type of leaders needed for the current world climate. A typical example for these times is a digital book produced by IPR Publishing, ‘The Five principles of Business Leadership’ which offers help to:

  • Energise and motivate your team
  • Define your core values, and apply them effectively
  • Improve productivity through co-operation
  • Create performance benchmarks, and improve upon them
  • Build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses
  • Identify your goals, and achieve them
  • Create a vision of your organisation’s future, and a roadmap to get you there

Another example is the ‘Emotional Intelligence’ follow-up by Daniel P. Goleman, together with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, ‘The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership into the Science of Results’.

One of the current buzzwords seems to be ‘authentic’. To quote from Goleman, “Emotional self-awareness creates leaders who are authentic.”  or take the book title by William Arnold: ‘Leading from the Zone: How Authentic Leaders Create Exceptional Results’.

All of these are very interesting books and appear to be promoting the idea that if you are yourself, positive results will ensue. Good personal astrology is also based on this principle and it is a great tool that provides food for thought on who we actually are. In life and certainly in business, we can get lost, due to the influences around us. Goleman explains the science of how we are affected by the emotions of others and how leaders need to be aware of this.

Defining authentic leadership

But let us go back and have a look at the definitions of ‘leadership’ and ‘authentic’, and look at what astrology might have to say on the topic of leadership.

Leadership: This is not so simple. Definitions range from – the act of leading, (big help!), to whole articles. Wikipedia (yes I know) uses words like power, authority, figurehead and vanguard. In business, the current use seems to refer to what those in leading positions in companies do.

Authentic: This is a bit easier, such as: not counterfeit or copied, real or original, sincere, genuine.

So authentic leadership should mean, in my view, using our original, not copied qualities and abilities to head a business. But many of the current books mention eliminating weakness or achieving results, and productivity. Goleman suggests that leaders can and should learn how to be emotionally intelligent. Many books imply that leadership is an art that can be learned, and suggest that good leaders all have similar qualities. This seems a little at odds with any authenticity. Not everyone has a powerful drive to produce things. Not everyone can motivate a team or even wants to. Not everyone is good at handling people, in fact a lot of well known leaders are terrible at this. But they are, in their authentic ways, good leaders.

The astrology of leadership

In astrological terms everyone has the capacity to be a leader. Not everyone wants to be a leader in the business area, but they may well be leaders in their own way in another area of life, such as at home or amongst a group of friends or in a hobby group. Here though, I will discuss business leadership and use the model of the four styles based on the four elements, fire, earth, air and water. We all have all these elements somewhere and we use them in different areas of our lives.


Light my Fire
The reason I have chosen the Leo edition for this topic, is that traditional leadership is often given Leo characteristics. Leo is one of the fire signs, which have in common: being able to inspire, taking action, warmth. To quote Goleman, good leaders “ignite”. They are the ‘do-ers’ and in my view the leaders in the true sense of the word; to be first or head something. Leo is the sign of the ruler, and being the centre of attention is no problem, in fact this is where they shine. These are leaders who grab the attention, however they are not particularly concerned about their staff, although they can be very generous. They lead because they are creators and because it’s fun. Madonna and Mick Jagger are Leo leaders in their field, who have certainly grabbed attention. Bill Clinton and Slobodan Milošević also show how this archetype can work, (see later).

Another fire sign has characteristics (to mention qualities that Goleman assigns to leaders) of strategy and vision. These are the Sagittarians. Lawmakers and big picture people are plentiful with this archetype present. They lead because they are looking for adventures and risk. These are the entrepreneurs. The great strategist Sir Winston Churchill was a Sagittarius.


If there is a battle to be fought, another great asset is the Aries quality. Whereas Churchill was better heading things up and making a strategy, Aries are better in the field leading the troops and fighting the battles. They have guts, love to compete and win but are not long term strategists as they are always in the moment.  Their drive, as the first sign of the zodiac, is to be first, to have a challenge and to be a pioneer. Alan Sugar who headed the television series ‘The Apprentice’ shows how an Aries leader operates. Bill Gates also has this archetype present although his Sun sign is in water.

But is is not useful (or perhaps even possible) to teach emotional water qualities to these fiery leaders. Water will put out their fire. They should lead companies that want action.

Does the Earth Move?
Earth signs are also ‘do-ers’, in that they act, but their motivation is very different.

They like to build and solve problems with practical solutions. These are the leaders who are good managers as they want results. Our society is still very ‘earth’ based as can be seen from the “Five Principles” book mentioned earlier.

These leaders are better employed on projects, or where money control is necessary. Where there is a long term goal or where discipline is an asset, Capricorn energy excels. This is an ambitious sign. Both Tiger Woods and Mohammed Ali show how Capricorn dedication can create leaders in the sports field.

Taurus, another earth sign, likes to build, as was mentioned in the Taurus post discussing the fact that Tony Blair and the Dutch Prime Minister are both Taureans. Queen Elizabeth II is also a Taurus, her leadership style is often described as solid and dependable and her powers of endurance are legendary. Stability is what these leaders go for.


Photo by Akash Deshpande from Pexels

Virgo has a dilemma as a leader because one of the main Virgo words is service. Mother Theresa was in her quiet serving way a leader. We can see here how the practical qualities of this archetype can achieve many practical goals.

But will the earth move? Or be spontaneous like fire? Probably not.

Catch that Thought
If you are a leader and one of the air signs, Gemini, Libra or Aquarius, then your contribution should be your ideas. This is a thinking sign, not a doing sign, these are the thought leaders. These people as leaders, are sometimes not valued in companies as much as the fire or earth signs, because they are not seen as achievers in the sense of getting results. What turns them on is learning and knowing. They are motivated by having their ideas valued and used, particularly in the case of Aquarius. Here we see people like Charles Darwin or Germain Greer, both people who wanted to shock the world into a new way of thinking. Opray Winfrey is a good example too of the social nature of this sign and her need to change the world. In their way they are leaders who are ahead of their time.

Geminis are the communicators. As leaders their drive is to send out a message to the world. John F. Kennedy is a great example of a Gemini leader, as is someone whose name is often associated with him, Marilyn Monroe. In her own field she was a great communicator and very witty, a Gemini trait, but she is better known for her heavy dose of a the water archetype, Pisces. Kennedy is known for his oratory powers and he won the Pulitzer prize for his writing. A quote from a typical website says it all:  “Kennedy, at 43 the youngest man ever elected to lead the nation, inspired a generation of Americans in his call to pioneer a New Frontier, which was not a place but a way of thinking.”


Libra leaders are also ones with dilemmas because of their need to share their ideas and have a business partner. It is perhaps interesting to note that some companies also work better in partnership. KLM is, as a company, Libra and since the partnership deal with Air France, their long search for a partner was over.

Interestingly Margaret Thatcher is Libran, although she has a very strong element of the earthy Capricorn archetype, for which she is better known. However it is her strong ideas that remain her legacy today. Perhaps her Libra qualities of debate can be seen in this quote from her: “I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.”

But can air signs be taught to show emotions? Tricky – they are far too rational and intellectual for that!

Water Water everywhere?
So onto the signs that Goleman won’t need to educate because they are naturally emotionally intelligent.  These are the feeling signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces and he is right – it is often these signs that make very good leaders, Take Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson, both Cancers as was Princess Diana (and as is Bush – see last post); Bill Gates, Condolezza Rice or Tom Peters, all Scorpios, or that famous fish Albert Einstein.

Empathy is a quality that is readily available to all these signs. Because they can step into someone else’s shoes they have the ability to influence others in good and bad ways. They can sway the masses or manipulate, depending on your point of view. What drives these three signs is emotional involvement. These archetypes, often described as feminine, are becoming more valued in companies, which up until recently was not the case, hence perhaps Goleman’s success. You often see water signs active in personnel directors.

The motivation of the three signs are slightly different.

Why would you want a Cancer leader?  To create a sense of family or belonging. To be patriotic and to fight for particular values associated with your group. See how this works very differently for Mandela and Bush. Princess Diana fought for her family and for children – another Cancer theme. Diana was very natural and authentic in this and was therefore recognised for her empathy.


What about Scorpio leadership? This is the sign that often gets the most bad press. Scorpios want to make a difference and are very passionate about transforming things. As natural psychologists, they are adept at company politics and strive to have power and influence. Bill Gates has certainly transformed the world through his passion. It remains to be seen if Condolezza Rice can do this. But Scorpios do not reveal themselves easily, so what you see is not always what you get. But Rice will cope with war situations, another Scorpio theme. It would have been interesting to see where Daniel Goleman is coming from, but his birth data apart from the year, is mysteriously absent from any biographies. As he is a psychologist, an educated guess might be that he has the Scorpio archetype strongly present!

Pisces as leaders, also face a dilemma as they too want to serve and help the world to become better. As long as they have a cause they can be great empathic leaders with extraordinary imagination. What Pisceans can offer the world are their dreams which can also alter our world. Einstein was no exception to this.

But should you expect water signs to be logical? Forget it! Their biggest asset is their gut feeling, but don’t expect people strong on this archetype to be able to explain it.

So authentic leadership means to me, that we should do the things we are good at and enjoy, in the place that allows our natural leadership skills to shine, at whatever level we operate within our companies. Success, to me, is granted when we are true to our nature and therefore authentic.

The Leo Leader


So are you a Clinton or a Milošević? Both of these leaders have birthdays in August, so the Leo archetype is strongly featured. Bill has just turned 60 and Slobodan would have been 65 this year.

Attention seekers: Certainly they were both no strangers to being in the spotlight and being the focus of attention, often negatively. And Bill is celebrating his birthday for such a long time this year that it eclipses Hilary’s birthday.

But what is the drive here? What do they have in common that might be useful for you if you are a leader with this archetype in your makeup?

It is always difficult to ascertain this with public figures as there is always spin on everything reported. The best source would be directly from the person – in an autobiography or in quotes. But to glean a real sense of drive from these sources  is always tricky. Be that as it may, I will try to highlight some of the Leo themes, as I think it is possible to get a glimpse of the archetype by seeing the public image.

Pride: A group of lions is not called a pride for nothing. Leos are proud and also sometimes lazy. Perhaps it is no surprise that both the wives of these leaders ‘worked’ for their husbands. In both cases, it has often been said that the wives were the real leaders. Leos are great at delegation. Perhaps these quotes from Milošević suggest the ‘pride’ trait.

“I’m proud for everything I did in defending my country and my people, all my decisions are legitimate and legal, based on the Constitution of Yugoslavia, and based on the right of self-defence which belongs to every nation in the world. And their decisions – NATO leaders’ decisions, were all criminal.” And “The Kosovo heroism has been inspiring our creativity for six centuries, and has been feeding our pride and does not allow us to forget that at one time we were an army –  great, brave, and proud, one of the few that remained undefeated when losing.”

Clinton Milosevic

Cinton and Milošević in 1995 in Paris Photo Flckr CIA

Individuals: Leos do believe in rights for individuals. Both leaders hint at this in many of their quotes. However Leos also want to be above the rest. Milošević: “Equal and united people can, above all, become a part of the civilization toward which mankind is moving. If we cannot be at the head of the column leading to such a civilization, there is certainly no need for us to be at is tail”. We can also see the Leo idea of being in the top here.

Or Clinton: “By lifting the weakest, poorest among us, we lift the rest of us as well.”

Children: Leos are usually very fond of children being big kids themselves. Clinton in particular often quotes children or the next generation. “There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child, and nothing more important to our future than the safety of all our children.”

Heart: Leo is the sign that rules the heart. Perhaps it is no coincidence that both these leaders had heart problems after they had reached what they may have felt was a peak in their lives.

Fun: And to finish, a quote which shows Clinton’s sense of fun: “A lot of presidential memoirs, they say, are dull and self-serving. I hope mine is interesting and self-serving.” Spoken like a true Leo.

Faye Blake-Cossar

Interesting websites of the month

I particularly like an article by Danah Zohar, with her twelve principles of spiritual intelligence. She maintains this is necessary to develop good leadership skills. In this video she summarises the twelve principles.

The wiki article on leadership – an article well worth reading.

Quote of the month

“I may not have been the greatest president, but I’ve had the most fun eight years.”  Leo Bill Clinton.

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