“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart and feet – thinking, saying, feeling and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust” Lance Secretan What exactly is an authentic leader? Let me tell you first what it’s not. It’s not the ‘fake it till you make it’ model of success. It’s a form of leadership that creates a positive, honest, open environment. It involves a culture where each of your team members trust your judgment, believe what you say and have confidence in your motives and decisions, even when they don’t necessarily agree. The very first step in being an authentic leader is to know yourself well. Most authentic leaders understand the concept of self-leadership, in fact they live it. It’s all about being the best you that you can be rather than a cardboard copy of other leaders you know or have read about. You know yourself, you know how to treat people well and these values are not easily compromised by external influences. Another key ingredient of authentic leadership is integrity. You need to have strong values and the right motives. People will see that you are honest and fair, and you will build trust with them. When we trust our leader we are much more likely to follow, support and show loyalty to them.
To be an authentic leader you need to show that you actually care about the members in your team. Compassion, appreciation and gratitude will go a long way towards building a great team.
It’s not all sweetness and sunshine; an authentic leader knows how to get results. They know what’s happening in the workplace and the marketplace and will lead the team towards the success of the vision they have created and shared. Communication is a key ingredient to successfully running a business. It’s also another great skill that authentic leaders possess, both speaking and listening. They talk to the team, they share the vision and strategy and they listen to them when they give suggestions or feedback. Authentic leaders are consistent. It’s a fundamental requirement for successful leadership. Team members need to know where they stand. Nobody likes working for someone who is all over the place. Just as self-leadership is important, giving your team members the opportunity to know their leader is also important and they can’t if the leader is unpredictable.
Being an authentic leader isn’t easy, in fact it can be really hard work. It requires awareness, commitment, vulnerability and patience. But it pays off big time.
Your business will never outperform your level of leadership. Therefore, if you want to take your business to the next level you need to take your leadership skills there first.