In this day and age, especially due to the demands of the Millennial market, the number one quality you can have as a leader is authenticity. Maybe you’ve been told that to be a good leader, you must “act” a certain way, but that is not a recipe for gaining trust and inspiring loyalty. When you aren’t authentic, it is difficult to establish genuine honest relationships – and isn’t that a core skill set of an effective leader?
But authenticity is not an excuse to abandon compassion or open-mindedness. While employees appreciate leaders who are truthful and confident, they are also more apt to follow those who are flexible and approachable. When it comes right down to it, authenticity is a mindset of continual growth and genuineness. So how do you get there? Let’s break it down.
Don’t ‘Fake It Till You Make It’
- Honesty and transparency. This is the key to building trust, so authentic leaders make it their priority to ensure that everything they do and share is honest. There is faking it for an authentic leader. They are always open about their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- A strong sense of morals. Authentic leaders are not selfish; they are guided by ethics and work for the greater good. They strive to do the right thing in every situation, not what would benefit them the most.
- Self-awareness. Successful leaders cannot function without reflection and a commitment to growth. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and are adaptable in every situation. An authentic leader’s sense of self is not a rigid, unchangeable thing. It grows with them over time.
- They consider all ideas and viewpoints. Authentic leaders possess a sense of balance. They don’t cling too tightly to their own ideas, but instead consider diverse perspectives through their commitment to growth and positive change. They are especially open to what the close members of their teams have to say, and when confronted with new ideas, they genuinely take the time to consider their value.
Why Authentic Leadership Works
Authentic leadership benefits more than just leaders. Though it’s true that adopting these behaviors will make you stronger in the workplace, they also influence those around you. Perhaps the most valuable result of authentic leadership is the trust it inspires. It humanizes leaders to their employees and helps to foster a sense of vulnerability and openness that serve to make teams stronger.
Another great side effect of humanizing yourself as a leader is that it enables your employees to see you as personable, which in turn leads them to believe that they too can achieve the same level of success, simply by being genuine and honest. No one has to sacrifice their values to achieve greatness.
Immoral business decisions don’t help anybody—in fact, it can mean your employees may become disillusioned. But when you stand for something beneficial and show your true colors to those with whom you work, they’ll want to keep working with you. Operating this way encourages your team to let ethics drive their actions too, which cultivates a culture of engagement and responsibility. What’s not to love about that?
It’s clear that the answer to a disconnected workplace is authenticity. When a leader displays this characteristic, they encourage everyone else to live and work in the same honest fashion. Embracing authenticity takes time to truly understand yourself and to sow the seeds of a healthy work environment, but it will be worth it.