It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.
What stands out to me in my career is when I have had authentic Leaders who truly cared about me and the business and who were not in it solely for themselves. Those people inspired and motivated me and made me want to do my best. They made work fulfilling and fun and the business succeeded.
What is authentic Leadership?
How do authentic Leaders demonstrate it?
Authentic Leadership is where you are genuine and show your true self rather than acting one way at work and then being different at home. It’s also being aware of your emotions and your strengths, as well as your areas for improvements. So you will often see these Leaders reflecting after an event and are willing to say they got it wrong. They use emotional intelligence to understand their behaviour as well as using this technique to understand others and build better relationships. Through their understanding of how their actions affect others, they manage their feelings, acting constructively. What they won’t do is show anger or grumpiness as this can have negative results and turn people off. They show transparency and if they give you their word, then you can believe it. These leaders also have the ability to share they have fears but they manage these fears through containment. By sharing and opening up it builds better relationships.
You will see authentic leaders following their heart – intuition forms part of this. They will show their feelings, demonstrating openness and honesty enabling an ability to connect with their employees. Recent experience has shown this does foster a sense of bonding and that far from staff seeing you as “soft” they see that you are a true “human-being” and want to work with you to succeed. The feeling as an authentic Leader from getting this type of result is very rewarding. As an authentic Leader you still say it as it is, but sharing your emotions creates empathy and assists with building emotional intelligence and creating successful teams.
Authentic Leaders work for the good of the business and its people. They work to achieve success not just for the business but for the employees. By showing authenticity people buy-in and feel motivated. Time and time again, I’ve seen this approach create successful teams. They demonstrate a caring attitude to their employees which as a result motivates employees to do their best. They do this by developing and nurturing their employees. What one of these leaders doesn’t do is walk all over their employees, purely to get to the top.
Part of being authentic is asking for feedback and acting on it. Again this builds trust and openness by the way you deal with the feedback. These Leaders love ideas and suggestions and respond appropriately showing they appreciate the ideas. They see endless possibilities and want to think out of the box. Ethical behaviour is another part – essential for building trust.
Another aspect I’ve seen from authentic leaders is the way they involve others by asking for their opinions. They realise they are only as good as their team and work with the skillsets of the team members ensuring the best outcomes.
So how can you gain authenticity?
Through Emotional Intelligence and reflecting on how you come across as a Leader and team member is a start. Consider carrying out 360® feedback and ask for feedback throughout the year. Look for a mentor to assist you in your self-development and give you support through your self-discovery. Remember it’s about adapting your behaviour so it’s maintainable but remains genuine.
Good luck in your pursuit of increasing your authenticity.