Being an authentic leader and what this means?

Authentic leadership isn’t a new concept. It’s been floating around since the 1960s.

Despite its age, authentic leadership as a leadership style is still in adolescence. There are still a few different definitions that describe the leadership style, but what the research does agree is the considerable benefits of practising authentic leadership are worth their weight in gold.

  • Better relationships with colleagues
  • Higher levels of trust
  • Greater productivity
  • A more positive working environment
  • An environment where colleagues feel safe to speak what’s on their mind.

From my perspective Authentic leadership is a leadership style based on principles of honesty, integrity, and self-awareness. It allows you to lead by example and inspire others with your actions. Leading authentically requires a willingness to take risks and to be open to feedback. It requires the leader to quiet down their ego, connect to their core values but most importantly to lead from a place that genuinely wants the best for the people they lead and the organisation.

A problem I have seen a lot of is when women in leadership find themselves working in more male dominated environments we can often fall into the trap of adapting behaviours that aren’t authentic to us because we think it’s the only way to progress and to be taken seriously as leaders.

Putting on a front

When you don’t feel comfortable enough to show up as your full self at work and are constantly putting on a front – it’s exhausting and perhaps an opportunity to take a step back, look around and make sure you are in the right place!

The authentic leader is a living and breathing example of what he or she expects from all team members. This is what makes him or her worth the trust of the team. The team does not follow because of hierarchy, position or title the leader has, but because they feel this is the path they want to walk. They are proud to be a part of the team and contribute to the common objectives. They feel safe and encouraged to be true to themselves.

I can share openly that in the early days of my management career, at 20 years old,  I fundamentally did not understand concepts of authenticity in leadership. I led firmly with my ego, my competitive streak and my external validation, a real need to be the best. Looking back there were times I was completely unapproachable, instilled fear in my team. I set the bar and standards so high that I bulldozed through my team members’ boundaries. I am sometimes horrified and think about the lack of physiological safety I provided and advocated within the teams that I managed. 

As leaders we have a responsibility for the people we lead, this is why it is imperative that whether you are an aspiring leader or a high-powered exec that you take the time to reflect on how you show up and lead your team. If you find signals that you are not building trusting relationships with the people  you are responsible to lead you need to reflect and really ask yourself why. The damage our poorly developed leadership beliefs and skills can cause to the people we are responsible for can leave long lasting effects and cause havoc with their confidence.

An authentic leader

An authentic leader strives to create a meaningful relationship with their team as they work toward goals related to their organisation’s mission and purpose—not just its bottom line. 

Here are five traits of authentic leaders offered by Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn:

I love supporting leaders just like you become the most authentic and true leaders they can be. I have helped so many leaders like you uncover the blockers allowing their authenticity to shine and I can help you too. Contact me today for a discovery call and let’s tap into this together.

Contact me today for a free discovery call

Lets see if we are a good fit to work together

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