Authentic leadership describes a leader who strikes the balance between honesty and empathy. The word authenticity conjures many descriptors and images. An authentic leader leads from who they are not from who they think they should be or what others tell them to be. Followers can tell when a leader is authentic versus inauthentic. What is the value of an authentic leader in today’s business culture?
There are three reasons organizations need authentic leadership:
1.) Trust – We tend to not trust the imitation. Often leaders who lack authenticity present perfection, which actually alienates the team.
2.) Sustainability – A leader who leads from who they are not, will burnout over time. To maintain a false persona is exhausting and is an unrealistic goal. A leader who leads from who they are can sustain themselves for long periods of time because it is easier to lean into your strengths and core values.
3.) Succession – An authentic leader realizes that they are not the source of the organization’s success. They have done an excellent job of developing the next level of leaders. They trust their team to take on more and more, which builds organizational capacity. When asked who will follow in their footsteps when they leave, they can readily list the two or three leaders that can step into their shoes and lead the organization forward. They do not call on an executive recruiter to find the next leader.
How do you know if you are an authentic leader?
1.) Relationships Come First: Does your calendar reflect intentional 1:1 time with your direct reports? Authentic leaders build trusting relationships over time.
2.) Transparency: Authentic leaders communicate regularly with their teams. They include their employees in decisions whenever possible by giving them a voice.
3.) Caused: Authentic leaders lead from a place of purpose and help their employees to understand their cause.
How would you evaluate your leadership?