What is authentic leadership?
Authentic leadership emphasizes honesty, being genuine, self-awareness, emotions, and staying true to one’s self. It is built upon values and character rather than a leadership style and allows for flexibility to adapt to the needs of others. Authentic leaders are not perfect and nor do they try to be. Instead, these leaders continuously grow and learn from their experiences. Becoming an authentic leader is a process that takes hard work, but is something that all people are capable of being. Using authentic leadership has the potential to create better relationships both inside and outside of the workplace. The following research explains different qualities of authentic leaders as well as some tips on how to become an authentic leader.
According to a 2013 Forbes article written by Kevin Kruse, a NY Times best selling author and serial entrepreneur, authentic leaders have four characteristics that set them apart from other leaders.
- “Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine.”Authentic leaders are aware of their strengths, limitations, and emotions. They do not try to hide their weaknesses, but instead strive towards bettering themselves. Whether in a private conversation or giving a public presentation, authentic leaders are genuine in every situation.
- “Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results.” Authentic leaders put the organization’s mission and goals before their own. They do a job in order to get results for the company rather than for money, power, or their own ego.
- “Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds.” Authentic leaders are not afraid to show their emotions and can connect with other people on a more personal level. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” Instead, they are direct, while still remaining empathetic to people’s needs.
- “Authentic leaders focus on the long-term.”Authentic leaders realize that developing a company and its people requires hard work and patience, but also that there are great benefits in the long term.
How do you become an authentic leader?
These are five suggestions from a 2016 article based on insights from Brenda Ellington Booth and Brooke Vuckovic.
- “Know yourself.”This refers to being aware of your unique character, strengths, and shortcomings as well as your values and purpose. Self reflection and life storytelling are a few ways in which people can become more self aware.
- “Learn to connect.”Whether you are speaking to a packed auditorium or chatting with a single employee, it is important to make a sincere connection that matches the needs of the situation. Your actions should align with your words, and your words with your emotional affect. Leaders should also be hyper-aware of the culture in which they are operating.
- “Be discreet.”While it is important for authentic leaders to communicate emotions and be personable, disclosing too much information or highly personal information can also damage a person’s reputation as a leader. Only disclose information when appropriate and keep confidentiality.
- “Play to your strengths.” Every leader has different strengths and weaknesses. Focus on using your own strengths to excel in your work. It is also important to know your limitations and figure out how to compensate for them. For example, form teams with others who have the strengths you lack.
- “Keep requesting feedback.”Authentic leaders welcome feedback, both formally and informally. Use this feedback to continue to grow both as a professional and an individual.
For more information on authentic leadership, check out these articles from the Harvard Business Review: