Whether you have been newly promoted to a leadership role or have been running a team for many years now, it is important to be constantly assessing your leadership style and skill to ensure you are the best you can be. It can be tricky to break down what makes a good leader, of course, terms such as ‘assertive’, ‘driven’ and ‘inspirational’ are commonly associated with leadership and often considered important traits for leaders to possess. But how much do we focus on ‘authentic’ as a character trait in our leaders?
What is Authentic Leadership?
Authentic Leadership is by no means a new concept, but it is one that many seem to still be trying to grasp an understanding of. For so long, there has been a fear of vulnerability within leadership, which has led to many feeling they can not be honest about who they are but needing to present themselves in a way that fits the expectation of what a leader must be.
A commonly quoted definition explains Authentic Leadership as such:
Authentic Leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on transparent and ethical leader behaviour and encourages open sharing of information needed to make decisions while accepting followers’ input.
Authentic Leadership is about being true to who you are as a person within your role while ensuring you make room for others’ input as well. It combines common sense and ethics and creates a work environment where employees truly know where they stand.
Why is Authentic Leadership Important?
People don’t like to feel like they are being deceived. If your words don’t match up with your actions, your team will notice. Inconsistency will produce mistrust, and that will distract your employees from doing their jobs. Their time won’t be spent as productively as you’d like it to be, instead, they will be discussing these inconsistencies and creating scenarios and situations to try and explain what is going on in your leadership. Whereas if you are truly and authentically leading by example, you will gain invaluable trust from your team, and they will work to the best of their abilities.
Long gone are the days when the company boss was the rarely seen, untouchable, unreachable figure held in reverence on their high horse. What people look for in a leader now is someone who is down to earth and relatable, someone they can connect with. Workers are inspired by leaders who are real and honest and not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in alongside their employees. People want a leader they are able to see themselves becoming, someone like them but further along in their career path.
If you want your team to be working at their best, you need to strive to provide more than a means to pay the bills. Aim to inspire them as humans first, by showing that you are human too, connect with them on that level and inspire them to aspire. Authentic leadership is the road to ensuring that you have an inspired and motivated team working at their best.
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