Authentic Leadership: Discovering How Important Having A North Star Is!

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Authentic Leadership

Think about the leaders that impress you the most. Now, wonder what the top qualities that make them so inspiring. Authenticity will likely be one of them. But authenticity makes our leaders and our bosses more human and more relatable. At an age and time where we are increasingly feeling disenchanted with popular figures, an authentic leadership style builds trust and respect!

What is Authentic Leadership?

Authentic Leadership
Authentic Leadership: Discovering How Important Having A North Star Is! 1

According to Harvard Professor Bill George, who first conceptualized the authentic leadership theory, if you want to be an authentic leader, “you have to follow your true north. You have to be the person you’re called to be.”

An authentic leader can instill trust in their employees about how the leader is as a human and how they feel about the employee’s performance. It establishes a bond of trust between the leader and the employee and significantly contributes to employee job satisfaction! You can add it to the employee value proposition as well.

Learn from the Leaders

Form Vector 1
Form Vector 1

Authentic Leadership: Why it is Important?

Importance Of Authentic Leadership
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Authenticity in leadership is the very root of a happy and pleasant work environment. Let’s see why it is essential.

1. Benefits Organizational Culture

Authentic leaders bring their whole selves to work and are more honest and participative in the workplace. Such organizations are likelier to have an engaged and motivated workforce.

2. Inspires Employees to be Authentic

Being authentic is easier when you already walk and talk like those great leaders above you. Thus, a few authentic leaders can pave the way for more authentic leaders. This, in turn, creates a culture of mutual respect within the organization.

Bill George explains this ripple effect, “As a leader, you want to encourage the people you work with to bring their ideas forth, to be real people, to be authentic and to be mindful and to have their practices and allow them to do that.”

3. Promotes Positive Working Environment

Negative bias makes us imagine stories about a person or situation when there is a lack of reliable information. Similarly, negative bias occurs when employees do not have reliable information about their bosses. And the time and energy required for work go waste in making stories. Authentic leadership at the workplace strives for a positive working environment and encourages others to do the same.

4. Drives Employee Motivation

Employees are human first. And they want to see their leaders the same way- honest, brave, and willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This authentic leadership style drives intrinsic motivation in employees.

4 Elements of Authentic Leadership

Elements Of Authentic Leadership
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There are many theories regarding what makes an authentic leader. But here is what most experts agree on

1. Genuineness and Self-Awareness

They are the same person on and off work. They are self-actualized, know their strengths and weaknesses, and have high emotional intelligence. Also, they do not hide their mistakes to appear flawless.

2. Mission-Driven and Result-Focused

Such leaders put organizational interests ahead of their self-interests. Also, their focus and purpose are results and not money or power.

3. Emotionally Strong and Leads With Heart

They are not afraid to show their emotions and be vulnerable. It does not mean they are ‘soft.’ But directness combined with empathy is a very impactful formula for success.

4. Long-Term Visions

Such leaders focus on long-term shareholder value and not just quarterly goals. Nurturing a company and its individuals take time and patience. But this strategy pays off in the longer run.

How to Develop an Authentic Leadership Style?

Develop Authentic Leadership Style
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Authentic leadership skills can be taught regardless of anybody’s current leadership style.

Here are nine pointers that will help you develop an authentic leadership style.

1. Explore Core Values

In an interview with Gallup, Andrea Goseco, an executive coach, said, “Who is the person we want to become? Who are we becoming? … And [that] question … helps you think about every action and decision you make every day.”

Indeed, every decision and disagreement you make reflects your core values. So, to develop your core values, search for core values online and filter those that resonate with you.

Don’t filter them for personal or professional life. As for authentic leaders, they are the same. Next, narrow down to the top 10 and score on how much you rank on each of them. This will give you essential insights into yourself.

2. Take Out Time For Reflection

Set out time from your busy lives, i.e., without smartphones and task lists, and reflect on your lifestyle and dealing with others. Next, journal your thoughts and your daily life events. Journaling will paint a picture of your ideas and patterns for you to analyze.

3. Be Open to Feedback

Apart from peeping inside, it would be best if you also took input from other people about how they perceive you. Thus seek honest feedback from surrounding people. A good leader wants to improve their employees, and seeking honest feedback can be very useful.

4. Be Gently Honest With Others

The foundation of authenticity lies in alignment in thoughts, words, and actions.

And to achieve this authenticity, you need to be very cautious of the trade-offs you make and the ‘WHYs’ of those trade-offs. However, it isn’t easy to be ideal. But it means that you consider your options before arriving at a decision.

For example, you are asked to give feedback. If you do not have sufficient information, you should stay silent- until you gather insights.

5. Develop Listening Skills

This might seem easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

It starts with staying silent when the other person is speaking. But listening skills peak when you take this time to understand the speaker rather than using it for thinking about your next response.

This behavior promotes empathy and trust between team members and managers. It is one of the essential elements of the employee-employer relationship.

6. Share Your Life Story

As an authentic leader, you can leverage your life stories to establish a connection with your employees. But it would be best if you did that with common sense.

When your employees are feeling demotivated, a success story can inspire them. But, if a leader shares his stories every time the team meets, they might appear narcissistic.

Authentic leaders are themselves, but they also make space for others.

7. Create Non-Negotiable Ethics

Write down a set of non-negotiable ethics of yours. Ethics you won’t compromise on even if your job is at stake.

You can even choose to narrate these ethics to a friend or colleague to make it even more real.

8. Construct a Leadership Learning Plan

Authentic leadership is not a destination but a journey.

Successful leaders are continuously reviewing and growing from their current stage.

Assess what resources you have at your disposal for your growth as a leader and leverage them to their maximum.

9. Welcome Suggestions

Authentic leaders give all points of view due respect and consideration.

When you are offered a suggestion that does not align with your current perspective, ask at least three questions to understand the viewpoint fully. Next, seek to understand the reasons for these misalignments. Dig out the reason for this misalignment and everything around them.

Final Words

One of the issues HR Leaders commonly face is that Gen Z seeks more meaning and impact in work than the older generations, and authentic leadership is an angle that can no longer be ignored.

Authentic leadership leads to a highly motivated and engaged workforce and a happier environment. Initiating your leaders on the authenticity journey is sure to produce excellent results for the organization’s success.

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Karan Jain

Karan Jain is the founder of HROne. Employee centricity and innovation with the desire to elevate work fulfilment across organisations has always been primal for him. As an employer and techpreneur, he roots for work-life balance, productivity, EX, change management, and executing business transformation in a hybrid work model.

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