I am so fortunate to have worked alongside and for some of the people who I believe embody the best aspects of leadership. For me they are truly inspirational people and they have my greatest respect. What I have learnt from them, just by being who they are, is nothing short of a gift. They are true friends as well as colleagues. Not surprisingly to those who have also had the blessing of working with them, my first manager and my current CEO are two of the most inspirational leaders I know (if either of you are reading this just take it – it’s true).
The key thing that these sensational people have in common is that they do not try to be anyone but themselves. They are authentic and genuine. They know themselves, they celebrate their talents and work with their strengths. They devote themselves to personal growth and development and seek out opportunities for feedback to ensure they are succeeding. These managers are open and remain mindful of their ‘gaps’, can have a good laugh at themselves and generally have a great sense of enthusiasm, fun and enjoyment. There is a sense about them that they almost glow from within and are incredibly relaxed within their positions.
Authenticity has become a critical quality in modern leadership and much has recently been written about it. A sense of people’s authenticity has a tremendous impact on how much we trust them, how comfortable we are with them and how willing we are to follow them.
The characteristics Authentic Leaders share include: Insight – they have vision + wisdom and the ability work through complex problems with clarity; Initiative – they have a go, they don’t ask permission, they back winning ideas, go against the status quo and take calculated risks; Influence – their enthusiasm and vision is contagious and people are drawn to them and want to help them succeed; Integrity – they have a personal set of values that they live by and are honest, trustworthy and transparent in their actions; and Impact – they make a difference, they are able to create real and lasting change, they leave a ripple behind them, they aim to leave a legacy.
You cannot be authentic if you are pretending to be someone you are not or suppressing the real you. Most people who work for you see through this quickly. The impact this has is enormous – people are less likely to trust, less likely to participate and provide information and they are less likely to fully commitment or give their all. This all impacts on organisational culture and general productivity and achievement.
The benefits speak for themselves. There’s nothing to lose and it all starts with being yourself and finding your own groove “just as you are” (yes more dreamy Mr Darcy via Bridget Jones’s Diary).
I’d love to hear your stories of authentic leadership. Do you work with an authentic leader? What makes them authentic and how does this inspire you?