Authentic leadership: What is it, and how can I achieve it?08 Aug 2017
Leaders come in many shapes and sizes – no two are alike. Every manager or CEO has their own approach to directing a team, but sometimes leaders must look at management training alternatives if their methods aren't effective. To begin this series on five of the best leadership types, let's look at the benefits and drawbacks of being an authentic leader.
What does it mean to be an authentic leader?
Authenticity in leadership is incredibly important. In the same way that no one likes a 'fake' friend, employees will probably dislike having a 'fake' boss. Rather than try to act a certain way to impress or feel superior to their employees, leaders need to bring their true selves to work every day, according to Forbes.
In the same way that no one likes a 'fake' friend, employees will probably dislike having a 'fake' boss.
Authentic leaders should be driven by their own hearts and the mission of the organisation they work for, not by money, fame or power. These types of leaders take initiative and utilise their influence in the company to have an impact on the success of the organisation and of the individual employees.
Of course, becoming this type of a leader is much easier said than done – sometimes authenticity itself can come across as forced. For this reason, it's important for leaders to focus equally hard on making sure their morals are aligned with the persona they're showing at work. Dr Helena Liu, from the Organisation Studies programme at Swinburne Business School, explains this to The Australian.
'It's a pity because if you go back to the original concept of authenticity, it's not just about being true to oneself (which doesn't have much meaning) but also about moral commitment," she says. "Which makes it very difficult but worthwhile."
Working with an authentic leader
If you are an employee rather than employer, you might be wondering what it's like to work with or under this type of leader. The short answer is this: if the person is truly authentic, they will push you and challenge you to be the best you can be. Authentic leaders inspire and motivate their employees, while also making them feel appreciated and valued in the organisation, according to author Michael Hyatt.
Like charismatic figures, leaders who focus on authenticity are the kinds of people that others feel drawn towards – people that employees want to follow.
Authentic leaders inspire and motivate their employees while also making them feel appreciated and valued.
Can I become one?
The first step towards becoming a more authentic leader is figuring out what drives you as a person. What makes you get out of bed in the morning? How dedicated are you to the mission of your organisation? Beyond simply identifying these intrinsic motivators, leaders must also ensure that they're being genuine and transparent at work – otherwise, people will not feel the same drive to respect or follow you.
For further reading on the subject, Bill George's book "Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value" offers interesting perspectives and suggestions for aspiring authentic leaders in business.
If you are looking for a more hands-on approach to developing your skills and authenticity as a leader, take a look at some of ICML's leadership training courses. Our organisation is dedicated to helping train and develop current leaders and cultivate new ones across Australia.
Get in touch today for more information about authentic leadership, or to hear about our different course options – we look forward to hearing from you!