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How to build authenticity in Leadership

20th August 2018

‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’ – John Q. Adams

Successful leaders come in all shapes, sizes and styles. It’s important to know there is no single best way to lead. Two of the UK’s most successful business leaders in recent times, Lord Alan Sugar and Dame Carolyn McCall highlight this perfectly: they couldn’t be more different, yet both are hugely successful.

The fact is, they are true to themselves. They are consistent in their manner and method. People know where they stand in relation to them, and this makes them easy to follow – if you respond to their particular brands of leadership.

Being authentic is all about recognising your individual brand of leadership: knowing how to use the talents you already have and being true to yourself and to those you lead. Authentic leadership includes making the most of our strengths, recognising and trading off our weaknesses so we take full self-accountability for the impact we have on others.

The roots of Authentic Leadership come from ancient Greek philosophy that focuses on the development of core, or cardinal, virtues. These virtues are:

  • Prudence (fair-mindedness, wisdom, seeing all possible courses of action)
  • Temperance (being emotionally balanced and in control)
  • Justice (being fair in dealing with others)
  • Fortitude (courage to do the right thing)

‘The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart’ – Parker J Palmer

Authentic leaders build relationships that work both ways. Win-win relationships are built on trust, openness and integrity.

Here are some tips to help you to demonstrate authenticity every day:

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider the situation from their perspective before you act or make a request.
  • Be honest. Give honest answers to honest questions. Explain things clearly which may be difficult for others to hear.
  • Communicate regularly. Keep people informed and updated…even if there’s nothing to report!
  • Show respect for others. Don’t use position and status to control situations or make someone else feel inadequate. Respect the time, opinions and effort of others.
  • Be open. Be transparent in your thinking and decision making and people will respect your position.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and decisions. Admit mistakes when you make them – it will show people that you are human and make you more accessible.
  • Admit limitations. If you can’t do something, be up-front about it.
  • Take personal responsibility. Be organised and see things through. It’s OK to delegate, as long as the task is completed efficiently and correctly.
  • Behave consistently. Handle similar situations in a fair way.
  • Keep your promises. Do what you say you will do, and if you run into difficulties, communicate this in advance and discuss alternatives.
  • Praise and recognise the achievements of others and give them credit for it.
  • Give trust to others and be loyal. Trustworthy people tend to trust others and remain loyal to the team through good times and bad.
  • Avoid politics. Playing politics will quickly earn you a reputation of being sly and untrustworthy.
  • Live in the current reality. Don’t focus too much on the past, or the uncertain elements of the future. Concentrate on what is happening in the here and now.

‘Authentic Leadership is transformational. It doesn’t impose its perspective on another but demonstrates the truth through relationship and being relatable’ – Joanne Alexander

Authenticity wins every time! Start winning at leadership and view our full bite-size offering to help support and empower your journey.