It’s plastered all over the inter-webs. From personal development specialists, coaches, consultants, copywriters and so on, you can hear the words, “Be Authentic!”
But what does that even mean?
How can you possibly be anything but yourself? You’re you!!
Even fake you is still you because it’s a combination of all the beliefs, experiences, and knowledge you’ve developed to say, “Hey, when I’m in a team meeting it’s better to stay quiet and avoid having an opinion. Last time I shared my opinion my boss threw a full 2” ring binder at me!”
Staying quiet to avoid getting hit by a ring binder would be a good decision, maybe not entirely authentic, but smart, unless you like dodging heavy objects with corners and metal pieces.
But, I’m not here to talk about being yourself.
I’m here to discuss a higher level of authenticity. Authentic leadership to be exact. I’m operating under the assumption that many of you are business owners and leaders and you want results that are bigger than feeling good.
You want an engaged team, sales, business growth, more money, more time, more innovation, and more creativity. Let’s look at how authentic leadership can help you get all of that, and then how you can become a more authentic leader.
Authentic leadership has been associated with increased sales, profits, ROI, improved skills and self-confidence of followers, improved collaboration and cooperation in teams, enhanced problem solving and decision making, improved creativity, and improved respect, admiration, and trust for leaders (Datta, 2015). I’m betting you can tell how all these things relate to business growth, higher performing teams, increased income, and innovation.
How can you get all of these results? Start by understanding authentic leaders, and how they show up in the world.
Authentic leaders are self-aware, know who they are, don’t need to copy anyone, have a deep passion for their work, are aware of and embody their values. And, they lead with their hearts and minds, even when that means taking on considerable risks (George, Sims, McLean, and Mayer, 2007).
For those around them, they encourage and develop a strong positive mindset, a sense of self-awareness, an internal moral compass, and they are deeply concerned about developed the strengths of their followers and broadening their thinking.
In the context of group dynamics, they take multiple perspectives into account. Yes, authentic leaders play in grey areas, they don’t have to take a strong stance or opinion – they encourage transparency and openness in relationships and communications, and they develop a positive ethical climate (Luthans & Avolio, 2003; May, Chan, Hodges, & Avolio, 2003).
What’s going on here? What does all this mean?
Authentic leaders know the values that drive them, have an internal moral compass, take an ethical stance, and they bring out the best in others by helping them discover who they are, what they stand for, and what they can accomplish.
Authentic leaders are transparent about who they are and what they believe in. Their followers trust them because their actions align with their beliefs. They have nothing to prove. They’re open to hearing ideas from others. They don’t have to be right all the time, and they create a safe environment that allows others to shine.
You won’t see authentic leaders gossiping and complaining. No, they’ll speak up when it matters, they have courage even when it takes considerable risk.
To be an authentic leader here are some initial steps to consider:
- Know your values. Own them, share them, and lead by them. I love results, (you’ll hear me talking about F.A.S.T. results all the time), having fun and not being too uptight about things, and I love innovation and beautiful surroundings. If you pay attention, you’ll see these values are everywhere in my work.
- Have a moral code of your own. Think through why you believe what you believe and, if after looking at multiple sides of an issue, be okay with not having the perfect answer sometimes. Death, war, abortion, doing the right thing, these are complex issues and don’t always have easy answers.
- Be open to the possibility that the majority of the time there will be other people who know more than you on any given subject, and many times those people will work with and for you.
- Trust your own value and contributions, and because of that be proud of the accomplishments and capabilities of others. We all contribute in different ways. Trust your uniqueness.
- Overcome your fears. Take risks to create outcomes that feel right to you morally and ethically.
Be kind to yourself, don’t expect this to be easy.
These are some profound questions to ask yourself and will evolve and develop over time. That’s what being authentic is about. Be where you are right now. Know who you are right now and grow from there.
If you’d like to dig deeper into your leadership, your strengths, derailers, and values and learn how you can grow your business click this link to schedule a complimentary Full Scale Business Assessment.