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Authentic Leadership…

Lessons In Being True To Yourself

What is authentic leadership? The term is tossed around quite often these days. We see the term used more today than ever, as we are back to exploring what real and authentic work environments are.

Let’s face it, today’s employees can spot the bull very quickly, and truth be told they have so many choices of where they can work, that they rarely have to put up with a boss or leader they can’t trust. For many work cultures, mistrust is the number one reason for low retention and high turnover.

Authenticity has been explored throughout history, from great African and Greek philosophers, to today’s leadership and management gurus.

But what if you have recently been promoted to a leadership position, or you are leading a team for the first time? What you typically hear from other leaders is that to be a good leader you must be authentic.

As you try to determine what that means, you hear advice like, “be directive”, “the buck stops with you”, “be inspirational, be transparent, be confident,” and on and on.

Confused? You bet. The minute you become authentic or “true to you”, most of your staff will not like you. Let’s face it, the people we are at work are not the people we are at home, or in any of our social environments.

Why? Because they are different environments that require different behaviors, different rules and have different expectations.

Did you know that research has shown that authentic leadership serves as the single highest predictor of an employer and employee’s relationship, which leads to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and increased employee retention.

But how do you become an authentic leader in the workplace?

First, authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine. And remember age, gender, nor race has anything to do with being an authentic leader. Authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They really are the people who are the same in both public and private life (ask my kiddos); and they do not hide their mistakes or weaknesses. They have made many, but they realize that it is their mistakes that have made them better. These are leaders who realize that work is a part of the life journey not just the journey. They realize that they are still learning right along with those they are leading.

Authentic leaders are also visionaries who focus on the long-term. These are the leaders who realize that to nurture employees and an organization requires hard work and patience, but that this approach will pay off in the end with a team of people who trust one another and who recognize that they have built something over the long-term.

And finally, authentic leaders lead with their heart. Yes, these are the brightest and smartest of the bunch, but they know that leadership is always more than just about the numbers. They connect with their employees by being open and transparent. Yet, they understand that the leader always must communicate vision and set direction to reach outcomes.

Authentic leaders can be open, direct, and empathetic all the while creating thriving organizations.

Are you ready to be authentic?

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