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Are You Really Authentic As A Leader?

If you're an authentic leader, great! If you're not really an authentic leader, what can you do to be one?

Personal experience

I’ve had the privilege of working with many leaders throughout my corporate management career. I like to think I’ve seen them all- the executioner, the intimidator, the micromanager, the NATO (no action, talk only), the perfectionist, the power player, the smooth criminal etc. Some are hybrids of a few leadership styles but generally they would skew to one dominant leadership style.

I feel that authentic leaders are rare unicorns. Looking back, I can safely say I’ve only met just one truly authentic leader. He was real and I respected him. It was easy for me to connect and resonate with him as I am of a similar kind.

I have also dealt with non-authentic leaders and thankfully there weren’t many such experiences. It was confusing and frustrating as I often had to second guess the leader’s every action and word in the course of completing my deliverables. Besides that, the culture in the organisations led by these non-authentic leaders is characterized by low trust and low morale. Politics was a game the employees had to play daily to remain relevant and/or survive. It wasn’t surprising that they couldn’t focus on work as they were busy protecting themselves from the unnecessary problems created by their leader’s actions and words.

What is authentic leadership?

An authentic leader is someone who is comfortable being himself and he behaves the same way whether he’s at the workplace or in his everyday life. An authentic leader displays his core values and belief systems consistently in this thoughts, actions and words. An authentic leader is generally respected and trusted by people and that enables him to connect and build strong relationship with others.

Authenticity is key in leadership as it brings out the best in others, which is crucial in achieving the set goals and targets. When a leader is authentic, leads by example and walks the talk, the team will often follow suit. Just imagine the leader and the team in complete alignment and working in unison, achieving the set goals and targets will be straightforward.

Authenticity is also fundamental in forging trust and respect, which when becomes ingrained in the culture of the organisation, leads to greater overall productivity and profitability. Building trust and respect with all stakeholders has always been a necessity and is considered today a key determining factor when doing business with an organisation. If we stay away from dealing with unscrupulous people, it is no surprise that organisations will be sceptical or even avoid dealing with organisations where their trustworthiness is questionable.

How to be an authentic leader?

Authentic leadership skill is a style of leading that emphasises the importance of being honest and sincere when dealing with others. Authentic leaders keep things ‘real’ and are prepared to show their vulnerability, honour their words and promises, admit their mistakes and take responsibility when things go wrong.

Below are some tips to be an authentic leader.

Tip #1: Be honest

Authentic leaders convey their genuine intentions through their words and actions. They are transparent and honest so that they are able to build trust among team members.

Tip #2: Be consistent

Authentic leaders walk the talk and do exactly what they say. This consistency leads to credibility, which reinforces the leaders’ authenticity.

Tip #3: Communicate core values

When people understand a leader’s core principles or belief system, they know where the leader stands on certain issues or matters, which helps them better understand the leader’s decisions and actions.

Tip #4: Show vulnerability

Authentic leaders are prepared to be vulnerable enough to take risks in order to make change happen.

From the above, it’s not difficult to be an authentic leader. The big question is whether the leader is willing to be authentic!


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