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Authentic Leadership: Flaws and All

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We can’t talk about leadership in this ever-changing business climate without talking about courage, confidence, and command.

We should talk about these things. They matter. People believe in leaders who believe in themselves. Who stand up for what’s right. Who speak truths others aren’t ready to hear, but need to. Courageous leaders show us a future we haven’t yet considered by pouring their ideas outside the lines into undiscovered places. With their larger-than-life personalities, they make us want to work harder to transform collective dreams into personal realities. Courageous, confident, commanding leaders inspire us. And remind us of our own potential.

And still, every leader–no matter how strong or influential–has a story filled with triumphs and trials, faith and fears, wins and losses. We are all flawed, and not only is our humanity normal, there is power in it–for us and for emerging leaders still defining the kind of influencer they desire to be.

Recently I was interviewed by Susan Rocco for her Women to Watch radio show, which tells the personal story behind each guest’s leadership experience. We talked about multicultural strategy, Hallmark’s mission to enrich lives, and why I’ve remained there for almost 19 years. We also touched on the importance of diverse leadership as a mechanism for ensuring sustainable relevance. But the questions that brought my journey into perspective weren’t about my successes on the path to executive leadership. They were about the person behind the leader, and the ups and downs inherent in the climb.

Susan asked about my childhood. I talked about my roots. She asked how I came to work for Hallmark. I told her it was a childhood dream. She asked who believes in me. I answered that I do (at last!), my husband does, and my parents always have. She asked about my challenges. I talked about my teachable moments, including my divorce and a stretch role that was very stretchy.

People always want to hear success stories. But I believe they need to hear our stories of overcoming, too. Human beings are imperfect. It’s liberating to know that acknowledging our vulnerability doesn’t unwind our power, but being ashamed of it can. What’s more, our ability to truthfully navigate the realities of life gives others the courage and confidence to know that they, too, can be genuine and successful at the same time. As long as we learn quickly, we get better. And eventually, we accomplish enough–flaws and all–to become the light in someone else’s lamp of possibility.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a dream I can…and do…believe in.

Tara Jaye Frank is the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose. She also works with various professional women’s organizations as a speaker, coach, knowledge partner, panelist, blogger, and workshop facilitator. Tara is Vice President of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc., and lives in Dallas with her husband and five of their six children. Connect with Tara Jaye at

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  1. jake Beniflah 2 years ago

    Authenticity is the one thing leaders must have. That’s so you, Tara Jaye Frank. Thank you for your leadership, mentorship and inspiration across the country.