Difficult situations and the idealised views of others can sometimes make it tough for leaders to live up to expectations and earn genuine respect. Regardless of the situation, authenticity means honouring who you are and what you stand for.
Authentic leadership top tips
Authenticity creates trust. People view leaders who act authentically as more charismatic and compelling. They foster goodwill and command respect. So how can you display authenticity?
1. Develop self-awareness
Self-awareness is fundamental to being authentic. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses (you can't be good at everything, so be honest with yourself).
What motivates you? What values are most important to you? For example, maybe you value honesty, patience, integrity, discipline, determination, humility, gratitude, or compassion. Be sure to always act professionally.
2. Find a good role model
Having a role model who behaves authentically can be invaluable - you can watch how they react to situations genuinely and incorporate this into your leadership style. It is important to have someone to look up to and on whom you can model your behaviour.
3. 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 that gap. This relationship will go a long way in developing your leadership style.
4. Reach out & 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'. Genuinely showing interest in people goes a long way in forming a connection. Find common ground and listen to what people have to say.
People appreciate being heard and respect leaders who take the time to get to know them. This dynamic breeds trust and confidence in the leader.
5. Be discreet in the workplace
Avoid revealing too much personal information. Consider whether the information is 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.
6. Encourage colleagues to be authentic
Let your team know that you value their input and encourage them to speak up. When people feel comfortable enough to be open and know that their opinions are heard in the workplace, they are receptive to leadership. Cultivating a culture of authenticity will help your team thrive by being transparent, sharing and discussing ideas.
7. Play to your strengths
Some leaders are better at improving morale, some are ruthless when tough decisions need to be made, and others are adept at improving productivity. Work to your strengths and get help to cover any weaknesses.
8. 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! It is also important to keep in mind that you cannot please everyone - take the feedback on board and use your discretion when implementing any changes.
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