(2 mins read)
Many leaders pretend to be authentic leaders, but the truth is that not many really are.
We know many leaders who have inspired and influenced others. Leonidas in Thermopylae led a group of 300 Spartans who had a heroic battle with a Persian army. Mahatma Ghandi, the Indian politician who inspired a whole nation to work towards a common goal. Jacinda Ardern, ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, who is known for authenticity, empathy and ability to connect with people in a natural way.
An authentic leader is someone who is self-aware, transparent, genuine and guided by their own values and beliefs. It’s a person who is true to themself and other people, who communicates openly and honestly, regardless of the circumstances. An authentic leader is accountable for their own decisions and actions, and they lead with integrity. Empathy is also a key attribute of an authentic leader, who builds positive relationships with people and listens to understand. Overall, an authentic leader is someone who creates trust, respect, and psychological safety, which leads others to higher levels of engagement, innovation, and performance within the organisation.
Previously, the majority of businesses were number driven cultures. They prioritised financial metrics such as revenue, profit, and return on investment (ROI) as the most important indicators of success. Recently, we observe a significant shift towards human-centered organisations, where employees’ wellbeing, motivation and retention and customers’ satisfaction, are the most important cultural attributes. A focus on building a human-centered culture will impact employee engagement and long-term business sustainability. To build such a culture requires a significant effort to help managers and leaders to become AUTHENTIC LEADERS.
There are several key attributes that are associated with authentic leadership:
- SELF-AWARENESS – authentic leaders have a deep understanding of their values, beliefs, strengths, and development areas. They are open to 360 feedback, they are able to reflect and improve, change or adjust in the future.
- EMPATHY – they listen actively to others, they understand different points of views, and create a psychological safety environment where people communicate what they really think without consequences of retaliation.
- INTEGRITY – authentic leaders do what is right always, even when nobody’s looking. They are consistent with their words and actions.
- TRANSPARENCY – they are open and honest with other people in every situation. They share information about their decisions, engage in a dialogue on their thought process, and communicate clearly their expectations with others.
- FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS – authentic leaders build authentic relationships with all the people they work with. They show respect and build trust.
- POSITIVE ENERGY – it’s easy to be an authentic leader when everything goes smoothly and everything works well. A real authentic leader shows their true colours when teams or organisations face headwinds. Authentic leaders radiate with positive energy and support when there is a crisis, challenge or a problem. They inspire others.
- COMMUNICATION – authentic leaders engage with others and share their stories. Sharing a personal, authentic story is more powerful than presenting a fifty page PowerPoint deck full of numbers, diagrams and pictures.
Authentic leadership is a leadership style which helps to build trust and to foster a positive workplace culture.
Below are five powerful questions which will help you to reflect and work on your authentic leadership:
- How do you build and maintain trust with your team members?
- Do you remember a time when you had to make a difficult decision as a leader?
- How do you handle conflict within your team?
- Do you remember a situation when you had to admit to making a mistake as a leader?
- How do you create a culture of trust, openness and transparency?
There are some leaders who are natural born authentic leaders. Not every leader has it from the beginning, however every person could become an authentic leader. Remember, authenticity cannot be faked or learned overnight. Becoming an authentic leader is a continuous process that requires self-awareness, reflection, and personal commitment to growth every day.
Whether are are a seasoned executive or a new manager, learning to lead with authenticity can help you build stronger relationship, make better decisions, and drive greater results.
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