3 Tips for Being the Most Authentic Leader You Can Be

Key Insights:

  • Authenticity is critical for effective leadership in today’s world
  • Unfortunately, authenticity is more difficult to develop and maintain than it has ever been
  • There are things leaders can do to help them tap into their most authentic selves, which helps them lead much more effectively

What does it mean to be an effective leader?

Misinformation, misconceptions and myths about leadership are wildly persistent in our world, which makes it difficult for leaders to remain grounded and focused. And the list of responsibilities leaders must deal with continues to grow rapidly. Leadership may be more difficult – and potentially confusing – today than it has ever been. That is why I always come back to the idea of authenticity in leadership.

Being an authentic leader means remaining grounded in your values, beliefs and approaches, regardless of what the latest, untested conventional wisdom might say. Authentic leaders never leave their people guessing about where they stand or what they think is right. They have a way of rising above the fray and providing perspective that their team members thrive on. And they know they can always trust their internal compasses to guide them.

Your ability to lead effectively in a world that continues to get more confusing will depend upon your authenticity perhaps more than any other factor. And yet, being an authentic person and leader is incredibly difficult these days.

So, what can you do to make sure you are the most authentic leader you can be?

I have some tips!

What Is Authenticity?

Before I get into my advice, I think it will be useful to define what it means to be an authentic leader.

To me, authenticity is the quality of being able to bring your whole self to any interaction. There is no hiding or concealing certain qualities because of what someone else might think or how they may react. Rather, people who act with authenticity allow themselves to be seen and heard fully. Crucially, authenticity means matching your actions with your values, intentions and beliefs.

When leaders act with authenticity, their people see it clearly. It leads to greater levels of engagement and productivity. And it provides a solid model of what leadership within the organization should look like, which is extremely helpful for those within the organization who may be interested in rising into leadership roles themselves.

Authenticity is a critically important quality for today’s leaders to possess, but it’s getting harder and harder to act with true authenticity in our fast-paced world. Here’s what you can do to ensure that you lead as authentically as you can.

Ask Yourself – Who Am I Doing This For?

As a leader, you are responsible for making numerous decisions every single day. There are also a number of decisions to be made around how you present yourself and engage with others. Given the sheer number of decisions leaders must make, it is easy to understand why it is so easy to go on auto-pilot or to make decisions based on the perceived whims of others.

I suggest making a habit out of asking yourself who you’re doing things for. Are you remaining silent on an issue because you are afraid that what you have to say may rub someone the wrong way? Are you making any decisions based on how well-liked they may make you? If so, you are not leading with authenticity.

Check in with yourself as you make decisions. If your choices are aligned with someone else’s values, beliefs and intentions, you aren’t being authentic. If, however, you are always checking in with your true self as you make decisions, you are on the right track.

Let Go of What Doesn’t Work Anymore

Like many leaders, you have probably developed a range of habits that inform your actions. Some of these habits may have become so ingrained that you don’t even think about them anymore; they are simply automatic at this point. In fact, I bet that you are holding on to a large number of habits that come from previous version of you – from before you developed your values and beliefs fully. Therefore, these habits might not be working for you or your organization’s needs anymore.

If you are engaging in habits that go against your professed values, beliefs and intentions, it’s time for some self-examination and self-awareness. Ask yourself if your actions are coming from a place of habitual repetition, or if they are truly aligned with your values.

The most effective leaders are constantly evaluating themselves and checking in with their values so they can adjust their actions accordingly. This gives them the power to act in alignment with their most deeply held beliefs, which, in turn, drives engagement upward. People love it when their leaders are unafraid to adapt and become more authentic!

Give Yourself What You Need

Becoming more authentic as a leader is not a matter of flipping a switch or pressing a button. It is something that takes time, energy and effort. So I urge you to be patient and give yourself the time and space you actually require to transform.

I recommend learning how to be forgiving with yourself. Once you have identified your values and beliefs, you can continue to strive toward the standards of authenticity you have determined for yourself, but it won’t always be easy. You may have difficulty measuring up to them, but over time, the process will only become easier.

I also suggest taking time to nurture yourself so you can sustain your career in a manner that optimizes your ability to be authentic. Give yourself time and space to rest and reflect every so often, which will help you check in with yourself and your values. Doing this will re energize you and reconnect you with your authentic self. Then you can show that self off proudly to the world!

Relying on Another Perspective

One of the major keys to becoming a more authentic leader is to develop your self-awareness. Sadly, that is incredibly hard for anyone to do on their own. Yes, you can develop your self-awareness on your own, identify your values and mold yourself into greater authenticity, but the process can be made much simpler by bringing other trusted perspectives into the picture.

With the help of a leadership coach, you can hone in on the aspects of yourself that make you authentic and unique. Coaching can also make it easier for you to explore those areas of yourself that you might otherwise be afraid to visit. The result is an unbiased examination of what really makes you tick – and what makes you special with your specific set of leadership abilities.

Are you interested in learning more about how Leaders Edge can develop you or other leaders in your organization into greater authenticity? I would love to hear from you! Send me an email at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or give me a call at 1.877.871.3374 to learn more.

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