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Authentic leadership – What does it mean?

20th December 2017


The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” C G Jung

We often hear it talked about but do we truly know what authenticity means? Particularly within the context of leadership in the workplace?

To be an authentic leader you have to be true to yourself. If you’re pretending to be someone different in the workplace than at home, you will eventually get found out. No-one can keep up a fake façade forever. If you don’t believe in who you truly are, why would anyone else?

Your team and stakeholders are watching you all of the time. There is no down time as a leader, so wearing a mask that is not you can be wearing and it’s likely to slip now and again.

How are you showing up as a leader?

Are you being true to who you are?

Here are some of the key qualities I think authentic leaders should model. How do you stack up against them? Are you being the best that you can be?

Integrity and Honesty

 This is the foundation of every great authentic leader. Without integrity you have nothing. If you’re not honest and genuine no-one is going to want to be led by you. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities. We all have them so why hide them. It show’s your team you’re no different to them and confident of your identity.

Impact and Inspiration

 All great leaders want to have a positive impact and inspire others. The impact you make determines how your team perceive you and how far they’re willing to go to realise team goals and objectives. The sad truth is we often don’t take time out to understand the impact we are having. We may have the best intentions but if our impact doesn’t align with these we are not going to take people with us. Inspiration can take on many guises. So be clear about who your audience is and what might inspire them.

Positive Attitude

 Attitude is everything. Who is going to want to work hard for a miserable, grumpy, unappreciative leader? Yes, we all have our moods, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. However, when you’re a leader you have to play down your moods to some extent and make sure you come to work with a positive attitude. Be consistent, even if it seems like everything is going wrong. Your team are depending on you to keep up the momentum.

Authentic Communication

Communication is the key to pretty much everything in life. We all react differently and we all interpret things through our own filters. Find a style that works for you and flex this so you can engage others. Teams work best with honest, open communication even when it’s bad news. Panic, worry or anxiety doesn’t help anyone, as others will pick up on this   Remain calm in a crisis and be open – if you’re not sure what to do next say so.

When things go wrong, focus on the positives of the situation rather than the negatives. Seek out that silver lining!

If you’re true to these basic character traits your team will respond favourably. Faking it doesn’t work for anyone, in any circumstance. The truth will always come back to bite you in the behind. Start as you mean to go on and your team will flourish under your authentic leadership!

“What you get in your life is not a result of what you want, it is a result of Who You Are.”

Marlon Smith



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