Developing Authentic Leadership

If you’ve been leading a team for years or just starting out, it can be a bit tricky discerning exactly what a “good leader” actually means in terms of authenticity.

We usually would use words like “assertive”, “inspirational” and “confident” when we speak to leadership attributes.

But what about the word “authentic”? Though authentic leadership is not a new concept, its roots trace back to ancient Greek philosophy, it can feel a bit novel in concept today. To put it simply, what would “being true to yourself” have to do with leadership today?

Fact is, authentic leadership is the single most predictive factor in an employee’s job satisfaction.

If you want to ensure sustainable productivity and engagement of your team, it’s critical that you demonstrate this quality as a leader.

Briefly, three components of Authentic Leadership are:

Self-Awareness:  It is critical that you keep a focused reflection and challenge of self, including awareness of your clear strengths, possibly hidden weaknesses and longstanding values. You cannot demonstrate authenticity if you’re unsure who you are. 

Displaying your strengths and areas of development to your team, opens you up in a “good way. You don’t play games and by doing so, you are well positioned to build trust amongst your team.

Relational Transparency: Passive aggressiveness, being subtle in your messaging and providing convoluted feedback has no place in leadership. To be authentic, you must remain genuine, straightforward, and honest with your team. Members, one by one want to know where they stand at any point in time.

Balanced Processing: Leaders need to remain true to their values and beliefs in the face of opposition but must also be receptive to considering alternative viewpoints before making this final decision.

It is important to ask for alternative opinions or options to enrich the “picture”. It is important to stick to your values, but it is equally important to seek out alternative viewpoints as they may carry fresh perspectives.

Final Thoughts

Authenticity, like any other skill, is one that can be amplified over time. It all depends on your conscious efforts. By demonstrating conscious and sincere authenticity, the leader is likely to gain and solidify the trust of the team and related effectiveness.

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