Leadership is not a series of natural traits rooted in nature, and neither is authentic leadership. It's a skillset honed over time, with a tone of practice and many, many mistakes, and then at some point, you hope you get it right. Leadership experts peg authentic leadership as a management style where leaders are genuine, self-aware, and transparent. A great example of authentic leadership is delivering bad news to your team, coupled with the reasoning behind the decision and inviting them to ask questions. A not-so-good example is Vishal Garg, the founder, and CEO of Better.com, who fired 900 employees over Zoom and showed no appreciation for the people affected. Authentic leadership is important and is one of the key ingredients in the recipe for great companies. It fosters engagement, trust, enthusiasm and motivates people in a way that far exceeds remuneration.
So, where do you start, and what can you do to become an authentic leader?
- Practice Self-Awareness. As a leader, it's critical that you have a strong sense of self, including your strengths, weaknesses, and values. It's impossible to demonstrate authenticity as a leader if you're unsure of who you are or what you stand for in the first place. Always seek feedback from others and don't skip on self-reflection. Be aware of your feelings and always keep them in check.
- Be Transparent. Being transparent is ok but be polite.
- Get others involved. Seek others’ viewpoints when making decisions. Be curious and get your team involved. You'll better shape your decisions when you learn to see problems through the eyes of others.
- Take the moral high road. It's never about you and always focus on doing the right thing.
If you're curious and want to learn more, listen to episode 11 of Brash Words for great examples of becoming an authentic leader.
In episode 12, I'll be tackling accountability.