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In an ever-changing business landscape, we see the importance of having authentic leadership development built to last. Those who have successfully developed their brands have learned to strategically apply what they know about themselves as individuals to create more meaningful connections with others — connections that ultimately drive business success every day.
Authentic leadership style is not difficult to recognize. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg speaking at Facebook town hall in a hoodie, or Jeff Bezos in pajamas raising awareness of childhood cancer, we can usually tell when a leader is authentic — and when they just show up in sweatpants or a lab coat or wearing a tuxedo to an event because it was a condition of entry.
To clear up some of the buzz and confusion surrounding these topics, the focus here is on answering two key questions: What is Authentic Leadership Development? And why is it important?
What is authentic leadership?
While the definition of this concept has evolved over time and can take on a different meaning for each individual, many agree that it’s just being yourself – in the workplace and in life in general. It means acting consistently according to your core values so that your community can trust you.
What authentic leadership is not†
Being your true self, regardless of the consequences (i.e. anger, insults, etc.)
Intimidate or abuse people for personal gain
Be completely transparent about everything in your life
Focusing only on your needs and wants and pretending to care about others
Presenting an outer image that is incongruent with the inner image
Authentic leadership development starts with building trust and vulnerability between yourself and your team members. To build confidence in yourself as a leader, being truthful is critical – and that includes admitting when you’re wrong or don’t have all the answers. You also need to be able to honestly communicate what you expect from team members, while at the same time listening to their ideas and concerns they have about projects or working relationships within the team.
Related: 22 Traits That Make a Good Leader
Characteristics of Authentic Leaders
Authentic leadership traits stem from the philosophy of being true to yourself and your principles, which in turn leads to more positive work environments and more effective teams. But what does it mean to be authentic?
Self-awareness: the ability to understand your own thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
Transparency: the ability to be honest and candid – especially when you are wrong or make a mistake.
Emotional intelligence: self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social awareness and good relationships with others
Empathy: understand what someone else is feeling or thinking (so you can help them)
open-mindedness: have an open point of view that allows you to receive different ideas or information without judging
Self-reflective: regularly look at yourself objectively and give genuine feedback on how you could improve or do better next time
How do we create authenticity?
When we think about authenticity in leadership skills, we have to ask ourselves, “How do we create authenticity?” That’s a great question that can take many forms. How do we create authenticity in our leadership stylein our leadership behaviors† But above all, how do we inspire authenticity in our leadership? team†
There are many answers to these questions, but the most common theme for all of these questions is that it takes time, intention, and practice. The first step is understanding what authentic means. That’s why I use this definition: Authentic = unfiltered — unfiltered expressions of who you are as a leader. In other words, be yourself. That’s what creates authenticity.
Related: Why It’s Crucial to Speak as a Business Leader
How to be an authentic leader?
Your leadership brand is made up of complex dynamics – such as how you behave, react and interact with different groups or individuals in different situations, and how you interact with others as a leader to achieve outstanding results.
Authentic leadership skills is a leadership style that emphasizes the importance of being honest and fair in your dealings with others. It also means being willing to be vulnerable, keep your word, and admit you’re wrong.
Be honest and sincere: Authentic leaders find ways to communicate their sincere intentions through words and deeds. They use transparency and fairness to build trust among team members and ultimately extend it to the wider public.
Be prepared to be vulnerable: Authentic leaders, such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, were able to achieve great things because they were willing to be vulnerable enough to take risks before their peers to effect change.
Be consistent: Authenticity means you say what you mean and do what you say! Authentic leaders don’t tell people one thing and then do another. Authenticity and credibility arise when there is consistency between what you say and do. Your behavior (actions) should always match your words. If not, correct it and make it congruent.
Be clear about your core values: What are the core principles that govern how you live your life? What are the guiding principles for your way of working? What is most important in life? When people understand what’s important to you, they know where you stand on particular issues or topics, helping them better understand your decisions or actions.
Companies and authentic leadership
In the age of disinformation and misinformation, authentic leaders are becoming the new CEOs, and being authentic is a powerful way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Authenticity brings out the best in others, meaning nothing can stop you from achieving your mission. Authenticity not only makes people better as individuals, but also creates a stronger company culture and higher productivity in general.
Finally, authenticity is the foundation of trust – and if there’s one thing every business needs, it’s building trust with its stakeholders! This article attempts to help you learn how trust and authenticity outline some of those benefits here so that they are central to making decisions about how you want your brand to be represented in a given situation.
In short, it’s also critical to understand that leadership doesn’t just mean being a leader in the workplace. It means being a strong leader who really makes a difference no matter what space he or she is in – that includes your family and friends, your community, everyone and everything.
Related: The Business Impact of Authentic Leadership