Understanding Authentic Leadership and How to Practice it

Whether you have recently been promoted to leadership position or you are looking forward to get into such position, it can sometimes seem tricky to understand what constitutes to great leadership. When looking at the components of great leaders, it is often easy to stick to common ones such as being assertive, inspirational, confident and the rest. But what about being authentic? While the idea of authenticity in leadership is not new, it has some deep roots in ancient Greek philosophy. Authenticity is an important state of being able to control your own destiny. Today, it is a novel component of great leadership.

Authentic Leadership

Authentic leadership is a management style where leaders are genuine, self-aware and very transparent. An authentic leader is able to inspire loyalty and trust among employees and truly displays who they are in terms of expressing themselves and discussing employee performance. Authentic leadership is one of the greatest predictor of employee’s job satisfaction. When it comes to authentic leadership, it is defined by the following distinct components

Self-Awareness

As a leader, it is very important you have a strong sense of self, including your strengths, weaknesses as well as values. It is not possible to demonstrate authenticity as a leader is you are not sure of who you are. If you can display your strengths and weaknesses to your team, you will show leadership that you have nothing to hide. That way, you become better equipped on how to build trust among your team, and when an employee makes mistakes, they will be better aligned to admit their errors. Self-awareness is very critical for your growth as a leader. To become self-aware, you need to seek feedback from the environment, use self-reflection to understand your behavior and practice regular self-observation to understand your feelings.

Relational Transparency

Passive aggression, subtle messaging as well as convoluted feedback all have no place in leadership. To truly foster authenticity, it is very important that you remain genuine, straightforward and very honest with your team. Transparency and honesty must be encouraged from leadership level, if you are looking forward to achieve success in your business. To be close to your team, always provide constructive feedback as opposed to positive feedback. Authentic leadership must start with you displaying behavior you expect to see from your employees. If you are not transparent and honest, you cannot expect your employees to have such habits as well.

Balanced Processing

A leader needs to make decisions and stay true to her decision in the face of opposition. They must also be capable of receiving and considering alternative view points before making a decision. When major decisions, it is important to ask for alternative opinions and remain open to discussion. It is very important you stick to your values but equally consider opposing viewpoints to help you understand  any flaws you might have in your judgement. If you want to be truly an authentic leader, it is important you create an environment in which employees feel both safe and encouraged to share their opinions.

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