According to John Maxwell, leadership expert and founder of the John Maxwell Company, authenticity is not about replicating the leadership styles and traits of others. Rather, “authentic leaders have self-awareness, self-respect, self-confidence, and emotional maturity. They prize integrity above image, and they seek to build trust with others on the basis of their personal character.”
Take some guidance and inspiration from these 6 consistent behaviours of highly authentic leaders and check if you embody these traits.
1. They are self-aware
Authentic leaders may not know everything, but if there is one thing that they are committed to knowing more about than anyone else, is knowing themselves.
Self-awareness lies at the core of authenticity, and authentic leaders use every experience as an opportunity to deepen insight into their strengths, weaknesses, values, beliefs and emotions.
According to Dr Sattar Bawany, Managing Director & Master Executive Coach of EDA Asia Pacific, “authentic leadership encourages individuals to investigate their pasts, identify key defining moments in their lives that helped shape who they are and use these as springboards to identify their individual, authentic leadership purposes.”
2. They set aside their egos
Bill George, Harvard Business School professor and author of Authentic Leadership, says that one key factor that differentiates authentic leaders is that they genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership, and this involves setting aside their egos.
Instead of doing everything themselves, authentic leaders empower their peers. Instead of controlling every action, they trust others to get the job done.
This is not only limited to serving clients and colleagues. It also transcends the workplace to include activities that encompass corporate social responsibility (CRS) such as pro-bono, philanthropic and nonprofit work.
3. They are prepared to walk alone
Following what others say and taking the path of least resistance is easy. However, this does not necessarily mean that it will be most beneficial to the individual nor the collective.
While authentic leaders do not necessarily create conflict on purpose, they are willing to diverge from conventional thought and walk their own path if they need to. They will shy away from passive-aggressive or cliquish behaviour that divides and creates tension. There’s no doubt that flying in the face of convention is daunting, however being authentic involves being different, and “taking the lead,” even when there is strong opposition. This is an integral part of being a “leader.”
4. They build genuine relationships
There are many working relationships which only exist because of a hidden agenda or ulterior motive. This however, impedes the creation of genuine, trustworthy relationships.
How often do you hear this expression of resignation from en employee at the ‘ground’ level, who handles operations at the factory or retail store, “Oh, what’s there to do? The management says so.”
Instead of dealing in transactional relationships, authentic leaders develop sincere connections within their team which are grounded in trust and respect. You may be a corporate leader, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be interacting and building relationships with employees who work outside of the office.
This approach has served , senior vice president of applications at Oracle Asia-Pacific, well, helping her become the first female to win the SCS IT Leader of the Year. “People can see through you if you’re not authentic and if you are authentic, people can also feel that. To me, that’s the way I gain trust with the people I work with, whether they’re peers or part of my team.”
6. They inspire others to be authentic leaders too
Authentic leaders do not try to impress or “get” anything from those around them, nor do they see them as threats. Rather, they want to see them flourish as this is not only beneficial to the individual, but also an integral part of creating a winning team. They give due credit and acknowledge how every individual contributes to the success of the team. And by doing so, they are inspiring others to put their best foot forward and engage meaningfully.
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