How to Be Authentic as a Leader
Everyone has dreams, aspirations and ambitions. Although these differ from person to person, there comes a time in every person’s life when we begin to expect for our aspirations to become reality.
Sometimes our aspirations are truly ours, and other times they are driven by the desire to be liked, even adored by our friends and family.
What happens when you get where you thought you wanted to be, only to discover you’re at the wrong place?
What happens when you have had to compromise what you stand for and the very essence of your being to do something in order to succeed, that you would not normally do?
When these situations arise, you have only two choices: Keep living a lie or be true to yourself and tap into your authenticity as a leader.
Is Authenticity a Leadership Skill?
There are several ways in which you can develop authenticity for yourself and those around you.
The main goal isn’t to act authentic; it is to be authentic. There is a difference. We are not talking about a skill you turn on and off at will to meet your needs.
“Authenticity is a way of life. It is a life skill that you switch on the moment you decide to always embrace truth.”
Here are multiple ways in which you might go about developing the life skill of authenticity:
This might sound easier than it is. Self-awareness is not something that you can just be. It is something that has to be cultivated through strict introspection and loads of practice.
It requires complete self-accountability for every aspect of your life. You cannot fully achieve self-awareness if you still blame others for the results in your life.
This is because part of the practice of self-awareness is asking yourself, when someone rubs you the wrong way and upsets you, “what I am supposed to learn about myself now that I’ve been triggered?”
Often, leaders fail to realize the potential that self-awareness can have on their confidence and their ability to make a long-lasting impact on the world. This ends up causing them to lack authenticity skills in general.
These leaders may not necessarily know the process by which they should become self-aware, but they do know that the resource investment that is required to become self-aware is definitely worth it.
When you, as a leader, understand yourself well, you open the door to truly understanding others. Reflecting and introspecting on your own weaknesses and strengths allows you to be more compassionate towards others.
Asking yourself some basic questions can help you raise your self-awareness and understand the terms by which you lead your life.
What do you stand for? What is it about you that represents who you are at your core?
Your personal values are the terms of your life. Think of them as your personal life term-sheet. Everything you do is an investment in your personal growth.
An investor would not give you money without a term sheet outlining the expectations for their investment. Similarly knowing your values will determine what you should expect from yourself.
“Your values determine the terms that dictate how you live your life and how you show up as a leader.”
This technique also encourages a leader in every field to drive their passions beyond their limits and achieve personal as well as organizational success.
Balance Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations
The values that a leader possesses helps them gain insight into the kind of motivations that drive them, both extrinsic and intrinsic.
The common way to measure the level of overall determination and motivation that a leader or an organization has, is to measure it extrinsically.
Extrinsic motivations are based on rewards like money, titles, recognition, and fame.
Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal rewards. The motivation arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying.
However, the balance between these external and internal motivations has to be maintained and stabilized by you as the leader.
The balance between these motivations, both extrinsic and intrinsic is one of the keys to ensuring authenticity as a leadership skill for yourself.
Develop Your Support Team
Leaders do not have the means to succeed on their own. If you plan to be a successful leader, there are multiple things that you cannot do without the support of your peers or mentors and coaches.
To be successful as an authentic leader, you have to ensure that you create a support team for yourself. This team will help you by providing you with valuable feedback and a balanced perspective in terms of things that you view with a bias.
The support group will also help you focus on the correction of certain traits that you might be blind to and make sure that your ego isn’t running your life.
Know Your Limits
True leadership is the product of perseverance. If you are a leader within your organization, you must make sure that you maintain consistency and balance in almost all sectors of your responsibilities.
Leaders should also have the ability to integrate different areas of their life and turn the skill of authenticity into a reality.
The biggest challenge in this regard for the leader is to maintain a strong and stable personal life, one that is personal, but not too personal.
“An authenticity focused leader accepts they are not going to do everything right and embraces humility as the best teacher.”
Discovering your authenticity as a leader will not only require a lot of practice and effort, but also a lot of courage on your part.
You have to reflect deeply on your experiences, own your personal story, understand yourself well, and be humble enough to grow.
If you have trouble accepting yourself for the way you are and with the values that you have, ensure that you develop a deep understanding for the people around you.
Valuing your team will bring you a lot of benefits as a leader and will mean the world for the people you are vulnerably asking to be part of your tribe.
Being an authenticity focused leader is about embracing relationships and being open to your own flaws while striving passionately to live your personal values.
For more information on how to be more authentically yourself by breaking free of the command-and-control norms check out the Radical Purpose movement by clicking here.