Authenticity requires leaders to be true to themselves, regardless of what situation they encounter. But, it's not as easy as it sounds. Difficult situations and even others' idealised views of leadership can sometimes make it tough for leaders to live up to expectations and earn genuine respect.
Authenticity creates trust - leaders who act authentically are often more charismatic and compelling. They foster goodwill and command respect.
So what can you do?
Follow these top tips to ensure authentic leadership in your firm:
- Develop self-awareness - this is fundamental to being authentic. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses (you can't be good at everything so be realistic). What motivates you? What values are most important to you - for example, is it honesty, patience, integrity, discipline, determination, humility, gratitude, or compassion maybe? Be sure to always act professionally.
- Find a good role model - having a role model who behaves authentically can be invaluable - you can watch how they react to situations in a genuine way and incorporate this into your own leadership style.
- Seek a mentor - look for someone with whom you identify and can be yourself with. Compare how you behave with them to times when your behaviour seems inauthentic and work out how to close the gap.
- Reach out and form a connection with people - be sincere and try to form genuine connections with others. Take time to find out what makes them tick and get to know them. Avoid 'spin'.
- Be discreet - avoid revealing too much personal information; consider whether it's relevant and if it helps others understand your decision or values first; otherwise you may be seen as too self-centred, unsuitable for management and therefore lose respect.
- Encourage colleagues to be authentic - let your team know that you value their input and encourage them to speak up.
- Play to your strengths - some leaders are better at improving morale, some are ruthless when tough decisions have to be made, and others are adept at improving productivity. Work to your strengths and get help to cover any weaknesses.
- Get regular feedback - find out how your colleagues perceive you. Do you come across as aloof or too introverted? It's useful to know how others see you. But remember being authentic doesn't guarantee popularity!