Are You an Authentic Leader?

January 18, 2015 by  

As a leader one of the most important traits you can employ is honesty and authenticity. Why? Because if your team is to trust you, they need to know that you do what you say and are who you seem. In order for them to believe in you, you must earn their trust and respect.
To do that you need to follow a few simple rules:
1. Listen actively to your team. Focus on their concerns and address them. When you truly listen to them they will feel respected and you will gain trust and rapport. In addition, a good listener will learn more because people will be more likely to share ideas and concerns when they feel they will actually be listened to.
2. Provide your team with the autonomy necessary for them to do their jobs their way….certainly some parameters and time lines may be necessary, however micro-managing is never helpful and can actually impede productivity and efficiency as well as harming engagement. The last thing you want to encourage is apathy so empower your team to make decisions and be creative.
3. Offer your team the opportunity to improve the skills they have and expand their skill set. This shows support and encouragement as well as offering future opportunities for advancement or an increase in responsibilities which can challenge them and increase engagement and loyalty. Happy employees who feel appreciated will be less likely to leave the job and will experience less downtime. They also tend be more innovative and productive….a win/win for everyone!

So how will your team know you are authentic?
1. Authentic leaders are self-aware. They are not afraid to show their real selves to their followers. Their behavior is consistent no matter the situation or the location. Finally, they don’t cover up mistakes rather they are accountable.
2. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focus on results. The goals of the organization come before their own self-interest. Those goals have been collaboratively created so everyone is on the same page and buying into the achievement of them.
3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart and their mind. They are direct and honest, yet empathetic. They are not afraid to show vulnerabilities to connect with their followers. They are accepting of the fact that we are all human and therefore mistakes are made…but those are opportunities to learn.
4. Authentic leaders focus on the long-term because they are strategic planners and big picture thinkers. That does not mean they do not set short term goals, it just speaks to the fact that authentic leadership requires the ability to have a vision and be able to clearly articulate it to your team. This type of leader takes the time to nurture his/her followers, which generally pays huge dividends in the long haul as it develops inner purpose in the employees who feel acknowledged and supported as well as listened to when they make suggestions or voice concerns.

If you can relate to the tips shared here, you are doing a great job! If not, at least consider employing these strategies with your team and you will be able to reap the benefits of authentic leadership.