Is Authentic Leadership a fad?
We have heard so much lately about Trust. Trust is the glue that makes our relationships, whether in personal or professional life work. The business case for trust has been well documented and many organisations understand the link between trust and employee performance. Now there is “authentic leadership”. So is it the newest management fad? I don’t think so. In fact I think it’s critical to talking about Leadership Trust because
We cultivate trust by being authentic.
So what does authentic leadership look like in practice?
I observed a great example of an Authentic Leader. I facilitated a team coaching session and everyone headed straight back to the office after lunch. People had been out all morning and were dreading the work that must have piled up. BUT , the CEO didn’t leave. He rolled up his sleeves and began helping a colleague who had volunteered to provide the refreshments clean up. I know this CEO will never ask his team to do anything he wouldn’t do. Most CEO’s would not have ‘stooped’ to clean up after others; believing such menial tasks to be beneath them. After all they’re not paid the big bucks for this sort of work! The CEO had no such concerns, he just went about being himself and that day no-one thought “less” of him In fact the effect was quite the opposite.
So what is being authentic?
Firstly, it’s knowing who you really are, not who people want or expect you to be. We all have roles in life, Wife, Mother, Son, Father , CEO. Are we ‘playing’ a role and find that we are different in each of these roles, rather than simply changing our functions. Are we actually changing as a person to suit what we think people expect?
A great way to help us get to know our real self are behavioural and/or personality assessments such as DISC. It’s also critical to know our strengths and weaknesses so we can play to our strengths and limit doing activities that our are weak areas so we don’t get unnecessary burn-out.
Secondly, it’s staying true to who you are in your thoughts, words and actions. In other words do my actions line up with my values? Do I even know what my values are?
Coaching is a great process to help us discover and articulate our values and then to see whether our behaviours on a daily basis are matching up with them.
Thirdly it’s about being accountable. If we want to ensure we know our strengths and our weaknesses we have to be open to feedback. Also if we want to live our values this is often difficult in a dog-eat-dog worls where standards are considered relative and so having people in our lives that we give permission to hold us accountable will help us grow as authentic leaders.
3 Keys to Authentic Leadership
So we become authentic when we:
- Know your real self, including knowing your weaknesses as well as or strengths!
- Stay true to your values and live them out through your behaviours
- Give permission to trusted team members or family to hold you accountable, especially concerning your weaknesses
So I challenge you today to start being an authentic leader – both at home and at work.
I’d love to hear your take on authentic leadership whether in a work or personal context so leave a comment, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org