Whether you are new to a leadership position or have been a team leader for several years, it can sometimes be difficult to work out exactly what being a good, authentic leader might mean. It is all too easy to fall back on the assumption that an authentic leader is someone who is confident, assertive and inspirational. Research suggests that authentic leadership is something that serves as an indicator of organisational commitment. Plus, employee job satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. For any leader who wants to get the best out of their team, it is vital that they show their authenticity as a leader.
This is a management style where leaders are self-aware, genuine and, above all, transparent. An authentic leader is one who inspires trust and loyalty. They do so by displaying their own genuine personality and how they feel about the performance of their employees.
Improving your authenticity
There are four elements of Authentic Leadership Theory. These are:
It is critical for a leader to have a strong sense of their own strengths, weaknesses, values and their own self. When a leader understands their own strengths, they demonstrate to their team that there is nothing to hide. This creates trust within the team. Being self-aware also allows a leader to grow as a person. Plus, it helps to strengthen other skills in order to do the best job possible. It is not a weakness to be able to admit when something wasn’t done to the best of your abilities.
Subtle messaging, passive aggression and feedback that is convoluted. These are all things that have no place in leadership. If a leader wants to be truly authentic, then they need to be genuine, honest and straightforward. Let them know when there have been mistakes. Also, tell them when they have done a good job. This will help a team to be successful. What a team need to see in their leader is the type of behaviour that the leader wants to see from them. Leading by example is really important.
A good leader needs to be able to make decisions, and then remain true to their decisions even when there is opposition. When it comes to important decisions, it is important to seek alternative opinions. Plus, ensure that you are open to discussions. If you want to be a really authentic leader, then it is important that you make an environment where employees feel encouraged and safe when it comes to their opinions. This links back to self-awareness. You need to be sufficiently self-aware in order to accept that your opinion may not be complete. When you collect feedback from others you will be able to identify possible weaknesses in your own argument.
Internalised moral perspective or the ability to “Do the right thing”
Putting the needs of the company and customers first is of paramount importance. An authentic leader needs to focus on doing the right thing to achieve long-term success. Integrity and strong ethical values are important, and an authentic leader should not be tempted to take shortcuts.