For years there has been discussion of what an “Authentic Leader” means.
Authenticity is NOT being true to yourself.
In being “true to who you are” you can easily excuse behaviors and injurious thinking that adversely impacts others in the organization. For example, if you are a self-centered individual, you can justify your adverse actions and their consequences.
The world is filled with leaders who demean others, yell and and other poor behaviors. Yet when these leaders are called out, they simply sit back and reply, “Well, that’s just who I am.”
More common are leaders who claim they are all in with the company culture, but behind closed doors undermine it with bullying, unethical behaviors or an attitude of not having the rules which they say they uphold apply to themselves.
Leaders who aren’t authentic are easily found out. In most organizations, people know who those inauthentic leaders are.
A true and authentic leader is one who is who they say they are.
They are transparent in their weaknesses, their challenges, and their agendas. They hide nothing of themselves, and lay it all on the table for people to see. These leaders know that if there is anything foreign in their persona in how they portray themselves, their credibility and influence to lead will evaporate.
Authentic leaders are pure and complete people. Not perfect, but people whom you can tell what they’re made of.
Leaders who lead authentically allow themselves to be held accountable. They consider themselves to be part of a team, not the pinnacle of the team. They desire to make the team, the culture and the organization better, not just themselves.
Authentic leaders don’t show who they are to a few.
They are not the type of people who will show their true self to their favorites or to people they can bully to keep silent. They are consistent in their dealings everywhere, not being one thing to one group of people and something different to another group.
Authentic leaders aren’t willing to be double-minded, either wishy-washy or purposely two-faced. They are through and through genuine in their agendas, desires and alignment with the culture and the people within the culture.
In other words, if you want authentic Italian cuisine, you won’t get it by passing it off using Greek ingredients.
You can’t be an authentic leader by not being transparent in who you are.
Put yourself out there. Align your philosophies, goals, and agendas. Be authentic through and through.
Your people already know.
Everyone wants it. Not everyone gets it.
How do you guarantee that you won’t get respect? Here are some proven ways:
- Being self-serving
- Having a critical spirit
- Not listening
- Being uncaring
If you desire respect, which is given, not commanded, you’ll need to keep in mind the following equation:
RESPECT = TRUST + KNOWLEDGE
If you have knowledge of your field, or are resourceful and know how to get others to innovate and engage in a common vision, you have the knowledge necessary to elicit respect.
And if your people trust you and know that you have their back, then respect will come naturally.
Your don;t have to have a great deal of knowledge or trust to start off with. Just enough genuine trust and basic knowledge is all that is needed for a foundation to be established.
However, once the foundation is laid down, then a great leader will continue to increase in knowledge and gaining trust of their people.
Respects grows when others know you are growing and have their best interest at hand.
If you were asked what is the key essential ingredient for being successful as a leader, what would it be?
Your answers may be:
- Connection/engaging with people
- Hard work
- Being self-aware
- Reading & learning
There are numerous answers, ans while admirable, there is only one thing that anyone needs in order to be successful.
Sounds too simple, you say? Permit me to point out why willingness is the key trait all leaders must have.
A willing leader:
- Humbles themselves to understand their shortcomings and grow their weaknesses
- Commits to the hard changes necessary to grow people, businesses, and self
- Will see their job as serving others, not others as serving them
- Endures the hard road while sticking to their dreams, their values, the mission, and the goals at hand
- Does whatever is necessary and needed to make positive change happen
- Endures the criticism from others, the failures from others (and self!) and the doubts that creep in
- Sacrifices their own comforts for the good of their team
Without willingness, disciplines becomes drudgery, goals become wishes, and connecting becomes disingenuous. By not being willing, self-awareness becomes defensiveness, planning becomes a chore, and the pride of knowing it all derails any attempts to learn and grow.
Note the willingness of these people to change their lives and the world around them:
- Walt Disney was willing not to hear critics of his drawings, or his dreams
- Abraham Lincoln was willing to endure political and personal failures to hone his character and drive to become president
- Mahatma Ghandi was willing to endure ridicule, imprisonment, and long periods of fasting to bring India into a self-ruling state
- Aron Ralston was willing to cut off his arm to extricate himself from a boulder that trapped him in a canyon
- Olympic athletes who willingly sacrifice time and family to represent their country and pursue victory
- Visionary leaders willing to put their family’s financial security at stake to pursue a dream
- Missionaries willing to leave the comforts of home to minister and serve others abroad
- Parents willing to give up their energy and luxury in their prime of life for the hope of investing in a better life for their children
Whether you’re an executive, teacher, manager, student, or dreamer, you need willingness to see where you want to go and what you need to change to get there.
- Are you willing to put in the time, energy, and focus to realize the goal?
- Are you willing to forego any credit in order to promote your people and their talents?
- Are you willing to admit you have room to grow in order to be more effective?
- Can you be willing to accept any input from others about your character, your ability, and put it into play in your leadership life?
Look across any successful leader your know and wish to learn from, and you’ll see a willing spirit within them.
Unsuccessful leaders aren’t willing to change themselves or do what is necessary. The most successful leaders are willing where the rest of the pack is simply not.
How willing are YOU to make those changes for yourself and the ones around you?