Before we answer the question of how you can be an authentic leader, let’s first explore what Authentic Leadership actually is. According to authentic leadership theory, leaders are deemed authentic when their actions are seen as consistent with their personal values and beliefs, and it is this authenticity that inspires positive outcomes. However, a leader’s values and beliefs also tend to stand for the vision and mission of the group and the organisation they lead; as such, an authentic leader can be true to both him- or herself and broader organisational values.
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Now that we’ve understood what Authentic Leadership is, how does one go about developing it? To be an authentic leader, one must develop the following traits that together make up the general factor of authentic leadership:
- Self-awareness: being aware of the way in which one derives meaning from the world and of the impact one has on others.
You must first know who you are and what you truly believe in, before you can lead anyone else. You must also look at yourself from others’ perspectives and realise how you are perceived.
- Relational transparency: presenting one’s authentic, rather than fake or distorted, self to other people as well as minimising displays of inappropriate emotions.
Do not pretend. Your followers will see through your façade immediately. Be yourself, but to an extent. When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, first resolve such feelings in your own head before you address those whom you lead.
- Balanced processing: objectively analysing all data before making decisions as well as soliciting feedback that challenges one’s own views.
Do not make snap judgements. Take your time to gather the facts so that you can make informed and impartial decisions. Also, do not let your ego get the better of you. An authentic leader appreciates that he/she cannot be right all of the time.
- Internalised moral perspective: being guided by moral standards and behaving in ways that are congruent with internalised values rather than yielding to group, organisational, and societal pressures.
Be consistent in your morality. Do not compromise your ideals. Remember, you have to lead by example.
LBTC’s Level 2 – Leadership Skills course covers the topic of Authentic Leadership in extensive detail.