An authentic leader takes openness and honesty seriously, is self-aware, transparent and exhibits behaviour that is in line with their values and principles. Inauthentic leaders struggle to take ownership of their mistakes, however obvious they may be to everyone else, which in turn creates a culture of mistrust that can eat an organisation from the inside out.
Why is authenticity important for leaders?
- Authentic leaders are trustworthy
If your team fail to believe that you know what you are doing and that you care about their contributions, they won’t be committed to work well with you. Trust is one of the biggest and most important contributors to the success of an organisation. It builds stability, sustainability, and profitability. If a leader demonstrates awareness of their own weaknesses and values, and a genuine concern for others, this fosters trust in their competence, reliability and integrity. This has a significant impact on employee engagement and performance. Mistrust of a leader can slow down decision-making processes and lower productivity and profitability.
- Authenticity in leadership demonstrates self-confidence
To ensure your team believes in you and your vision you must demonstrate an unwavering confidence in yourself and what you care about. A lack of confidence in leadership has a serious effect on the quality of decision making and communications. Authentic leaders inspire confidence in others who will be more at ease with the decisions you are making.
- Authentic leaders are not afraid to make mistakes
Leaders have an obligation to ensure that those following them feel comfortable looking up to them for guidance. Leaders need to be able to show vulnerability, they need to show that they’ve struggled and emerged, and that they’ve overcome failure. Authentic leaders are not afraid to admit to mistakes and use these examples as learning opportunities both for themselves and for their team, enabling them to contribute to professional development. This openness also results in a higher level of respect from their team.
- Authentic leaders listen
Studies consistently address the importance of emotional intelligence for leaders, i.e. the ability to listen to and understand people better. A leader has an obligation to proactively understand and appreciate their employees’ experience. This means understanding the barriers and challenges they face, the support they need, the resources, tools and training they need, how they feel about their position within the organisation and how motivated they are to perform this role. The result of this understanding is a positive work culture, increased employee engagement, loyalty, and dedication to the company mission.
- Authentic leaders go the extra mile
Leaders who lack authenticity are often guided by fear which can lead to reluctance to adopt innovative strategies. But in leadership, venturing into uncharted territories is part of the job. Authentic leaders are not fearful of new challenges and go the extra mile to bring about innovation, creativity and to enhance the potential of those they lead. They embrace change and any opportunity to achieve greater goals and success.
Authenticity is a critical asset for leaders who wish to be successful. It cultivates trust, confidence, commitment, and improved employee engagement and productivity. Authentic leaders command respect and demonstrate sound judgment. Authentic leaders can be trusted to hold the best interests of others at heart and are surrounded by proud followers who will work hard to accomplish their goals.
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