I recently conducted some market research to learn from leaders how I can best support their leadership growth and development.I asked a series of questions and received great responses, food for thought, and feedback.When I spoke with a man in the military, he said one of the most important aspects that he looks for in leadership is “keepin' it real”. OK, he is quite a bit younger than I am! However, this message is ageless and timeless.Most of us have a pretty good B.S. meter and can smell fake a mile away. This is especially important to us, as leaders, to tap into truth and stand in our authenticity. When we stand in authenticity, we stand in power. THAT is what makes us powerful leaders – authenticity. And let’s face it; there is nothing more authentic or real than love.When we lead with love and authenticity, we practice:• Truth• Mindfulness• Awareness• Non-judgment• Honesty• Integrity• Compassion• Service• Presence• HumanitarianismBranding and image consulting are terms that we’ve no doubt heard before, typically in the context of marketing. Have you thought about your brand? No, I am not talking about the company for which you work—I am talking about YOU!What is your brand, your leadership image? Are you keepin it real? Are you respected because you’ve earned it or are you feared because of your title? What is the first thing your team thinks about when your name comes up?Some of us may say that we don’t care about what others think about us. Really, is that really true? As leaders, our primary task is to motivate and influence others toward a vision and/or goal. If others are not buying our brand, then we don’t really have followers.How can we consciously create our leadership brand?Follow these 5 simple steps:1. Intentionally determine what you want your brand to represent.2. Reverse engineer the steps necessary to develop and create that brand image.3. Be accountable to doing the work – find an accountability partner or coach who willbe honest about your progress and a resource when you are stuck.4. Be vulnerable and do spot checks with others to see if you are on the right track (inother words—ask!).5. Keep it real – Authenticity is a real attractorI would love to hear from you. How would you describe an authentic leader, one who is keepin' it real?