Being a leader is a difficult task in today’s business world. In a fast-paced organization with ever-changing challenges and roadblocks, leadership can be a stressful role to have. And when you have your leadership “hat” on at the office, it can feel as if you lose yourself in the shuffle.
Engaging in authentic leadership can help lighten the burden and may even help you to make more of a connection with your workforce. It revolves around one of the simplest charges there is: being yourself.
It sounds simple, but some leaders feel they have to put on a “tough-guy” persona at work, sometimes at the expense of the business. When we act like someone we’re not, we lose the respect of our peers and our employees who know better. And losing respect at the office is never a good thing.
So how do you engage in authentic leadership? What’s the secret?
Authentic leadership involves actually holding the beliefs you support; doing and saying what you sincerely believe. To be authentic, one must truly be himself or herself. It’s not a switch that gets turned on during the commute to the office; you must be yourself and take responsibility for your behavior.
Authentic leaders are usually the first ones to embrace the change they espouse, setting the example for others. They are visionaries who go against the grain to do what’s best for their organization because it’s truly in their heart.
Authentic leaders have integrity. Many people can lead, but only authentic leaders can do so with the values, morals and integrity of a strong character. People know and feel this strong character and are drawn to it. People trust, respect, and listen to authentic leaders, making it easier to lead.
Authentic leaders create communities at work; communities that work. They foster friendships among and between coworkers to link humans to one another so they have something else and someone else to work for other than themselves.
Authentic leaders learn about themselves to foster excellence in themselves and the organization. No one is perfect and to hold perfection on a pedestal, whether it be personal, a department, or the whole organization, is setting up for failure. Instead, authentic leaders strive for excellence and use failures and mistakes as a way to gain wisdom and to move forward.
Becoming an authentic leader is not necessarily about learning how to lead authentically. It’s about taking what is genuinely there, inside you, and letting it be visible for all to see and experience. Turning into someone you are not while at the office is all too transparent and doesn’t help you build the trust and enthusiasm you expect from your staff.