How to Be an Authentic Leader in Your Workplace 

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my series of podcasts that will help you to navigate those inevitable difficult events at work that are part of being a manager.  

Today I want to talk about how to be an authentic leader.  

Being authentic is not as simple as ‘being yourself,’ it’s about being your best self, for yourself and for others. Becoming truly authentic is an ongoing process of building trust and good relationships so that harmony reigns within the workplace.  

What are the qualities of an authentic leader?  

Authentic leaders are self-aware:

They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t try to hide their emotions for fear of being called ‘soft’ or ‘weak.’ You’ll never find an authentic leader who acts one way in public and then takes on a different persona in private.

What you see is what you get,. Authentic leaders have a passion for what they do and they aren’t afraid to share their ‘why’ with people which makes them come across as personable and genuine. And cultivating this self-awareness doesn’t happen overnight.  

Authentic leaders know they are a work in progress

People aren’t born authentic leaders; their positivity, resilience, and desire to learn is often a well-practised habit. This often means that they come into their own when there is a crisis or when an organisation is going through change. Truly authentic leaders learn how to develop their confidence and resilience, and this is what sees them through, wins trust, and builds good relationships.  

Good relationships are key to the success of any business.

This is why authentic leaders look after others. They work hard on building rapport and a team spirit with employees, and they find ways to help them shine and develop within their roles.  An authentic leader knows that success is not just about how successful they are personally, but how successful their people are. It’s about leaving the ego at the door and winning hearts and minds.  

Often, leaders get to the position they’re in by being driven, cold, and ruthless, but in reality, that will only get you so far.

An authentic leader understands that showing vulnerability and being human can help them connect with employees and improve communication at all levels of the business.

If employees see you as approachable and as someone who truly values what you have to offer, you’ll be rewarded with untold loyalty and higher levels of productivity and motivation. It’s about putting self-interest aside.  

Authentic leadership is about considering the organisation’s mission, values, and goals in everything they do, ahead of their desire for money, status, or an ego boost. It’s leadership with a higher purpose; nurturing people and nurturing the organisation as a whole means that great things can be achieved over time.

Things that are greater than one person, anyway.  

So we’ve looked at what makes an authentic leader, and as you’ve probably worked out, authentic leadership can be challenging, not least because tensions may exist between who someone is or wants to be, and what their goals are. For example,  

You might find it difficult to be true to yourself and feel the need to show a different side of your personality depending on the situation: An authentic leader is self-aware and embraces the different sides of their personality, but how they choose to behave and act reflects their true purpose.  

Another way you might struggle is that you may feel that growth and change will affect your ability to be authentic:

An authentic leader will look to balance growth and authenticity.

Authentic leaders are forever learning about themselves.

They make a commitment to work towards being their best self. And how can they do this without truly knowing the person they were, the person they are now, and the person they would like to be?  

Lastly, you may feel as if there is tension between who you are personally and your professional self: authentic leaders harmonise these personas by putting their own advancement to one side, embracing the support of good people, and being unashamedly passionate in the pursuit of organisational goals that are bigger than themselves.  

Authentic leaders have a lasting impact, not only on the organisations they have helped to shape but on the people who work for them.  

I always remember authentic leaders who truly cared about me and the business, and who were not just out for themselves. These people inspired and motivated me, and they made work fulfilling and fun. And guess what? Employees having fun at work and business success are not mutually exclusive!  

I hope that you got some good tips from today’s podcast, and I’ll see you next time for the next one in the series.  

This is The People Mentor, signing off. 

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