Are You An Authentic Leader?
In the previous blog, we talked about Empathy, this week we are looking at another key trait of a LEADER: Authenticity, which represents the letter A in LEADER. So, what makes an AUTHENTIC LEADER? How do you know if you are an AUTHENTIC LEADER and what could you do to be more authentic? More importantly, how is being more AUTHENTIC going to affect your organization and your business?
Authentic leaders learn from their life stories. These leaders invest time to reflect on them, in order to grow as both leaders and individuals. Authentic leaders also develop self-consciousness by persistent and often brave self-exploration. However, in doing this, there is a hurdle that leaders may face, denial.
What Is Authenticity?
Staying true to yourself and your values
Being open and transparent
Doing the right thing and being honest.
Authenticity is important because it can help differentiate functional leaders from dysfunctional ones. Authenticity can encourage staff to perform and be faithful to the company. It can also strengthen trust among relationships in the organization. Being authentic is more than just being honest. It needs a lot of values and awareness among leaders.
Some people say they are one person at the office and a different person at home. Thats a key distinction in being an authentic leader- is being true to yourself and being yourself at all times.
That why having a mission statement is key - being authentic is being true to your mission statement - its doing the right thing even when by doing the right thing may cost your business in the short term and may leave you in a vulnerable state. I remember working with an organization and what truly inspired me is we had a huge membership in Greece and during a time when all foreign transactions were frozen in Greece, the company decided to allow all members to continue enjoying the benefits for 3 months regardless of they fact that they didn't pay during those 3 months. This cost the company hundreds of Thousands of $ in revenue but in the long run it created loyal clients because it showed the members the huge heart and integrity of the company.
In a study conducted in the US by Gallup it found that 96% of employees that were engaged trusted their companies whilst of the potion of employees that were disengaged only 48% trusted their company. Employee retention costs billions in revenue for companies - could perhaps a more authentic approach in leadership build more trust and drive higher retention?
Another key element is authentic leaders always take responsibility - never passing the blame. One of my favourite examples of an authentic leader is Martin Luther King, Jr. He fought violence with nonviolence through the Civil Rights Movement. One of his highest values was nonviolence, no matter how ugly and violent others were to him and his cause. His value of nonviolence continued in his legacy to achieve his ultimate goal of equality. His authenticity and values were a huge inspiration to millions and his legacy lives on as we further the advancement of equality in our society.
No matter who you are or who you are leading, authenticity is important. It’s what your followers want. To lead authentically, you need to know who you are and be open with others. When you lead authentically, people trust you and will help you to build a more solid foundation in your team and organization.