• Jo McDowall

How Do You Know If You’re Being An Authentic Leader ?

4 Tips To Help Encourage Authenticity


I blogged recently about leadership authenticity, and my story of how I lowered my ‘corporate girl mask’


A few questions came my way about ‘what is leadership authenticity’ and ‘how can it be achieved’


So here’s my take on authenticity in the workplace, and my Top Tips for bringing your whole self to work, and helping others bring their whole selves too :)


So, what is ‘Authentic Leadership’?


Well, you can look at authenticity as a ‘values-based’ approach, built on principles of honesty, integrity, rapport and trust


Authentic leaders acknowledge the value and importance of psychological safety, and create environments of trust and acceptance amongst their teams, cultivating mutual understanding and genuine connections


These conditions can lead to greater levels of satisfaction, happiness and a sense of belonging for team members, which can lead to increases in team motivation and productivity


Pause for a moment ..


Think of a leader you’ve worked with who you felt was authentic ..


What was their magic ingredient?


How did they make you ‘feel’?


Authentic leaders are adept at bringing out the best in individuals


They are naturally curious about their teams and are great listeners


Their genuine curiosity and interest creates a higher quality of communication and cultivates a deeper level of understanding that drives higher engagement


They build rapport successfully both with and between team members, reinforcing the depth of relationships and driving increased awareness to support greater collective results


However authentic leadership isn’t just about the environment created


Authentic leaders have a heightened awareness of themselves


They are acutely aware of their strengths and emotions as well as their limitations


They’re not afraid to ask for help


Because no-one is perfect, right?


That’s why we work in teams, right?


To achieve big, hairy, audacious goals, we must harness both individual and collective know-how to drive desired results


No-one can do it all by themselves, and authentic leaders are comfortable sharing their limitations and being vulnerable, they’re human after all!


However neuroscience studies show it’s not always easy to be authentic


A 2017 survey in Forbes identified 63% of employees did not trust their managers, which shows as leaders, we still have some way to go to help more individuals feel comfortable being themselves


Bill George, Harvard University leadership scholar and the author of Authentic Leadership, characterised 5 inauthentic manager types including ‘Imposter Manager’ (limited self awareness and who put others down to make themselves feel better,) ‘the Rationalist Manager’ (who moves away from their values and tells ‘rational lies’ to justify their behaviour and achieve their aims) and the ‘Pursuer of Glory’ (a manager motivated to exaggerate their own importance or power at the expense of their team)


However, there are many leaders out there who are Servant Leaders, those who show humility instead of authority and focus on empowering and uplifting those that work for them


This, according to Pat Falotico, a former executive leader at IBM and now CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, is when ‘magic happens’


Therefore authentic leadership is a balance


A balance of being raw and honest and ourselves, and being empathic and understanding of others


Finding the right balance is a bit like being on a Seesaw of Authenticity


Everyone is perceiving and interpreting through their own lense of beliefs, values and experiences and with these different perspectives and different interpretations of the world comes contrast and conflict


Some people will not like you or what you have to say, no matter what you say or how you say it


Many individuals don’t feel comfortable sharing themselves and their views with others


They maybe feel they don’t have the confidence to speak out or fear if they are themselves people will not like them


Over the years I’ve spent time understanding myself more and investing time to better understand others


Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong


But if we want to create trust and engagement and fun, bringing people together and creating opportunities for growth, then authentic leadership is important


As leaders we have an opportunity to make a difference in the world and create a real and lasting impact on the lives of those around us


What great leader wouldn’t want to have a lasting, positive impact on their tribe .. ?


So here are my 4 suggested tips to enhance authenticity:

  1. Be courageous : be brave and learn how to be comfortable being you

  2. Be curious : Be curious about your how you can improve your authenticity as well as curious about how to help others to feel feel comfortable being more authentic too

  3. Be consistent : Consistency breeds trust, which is super important when leading individuals

  4. Be compassionate : each of us have our own lives to lead, work is just one sliver, so by demonstrating empathy and understanding those around you, you encourage individuals to bring their whole selves to work :)

Many people can lead, but only authentic leaders do so with values, integrity and a sense of responsibility


#beyourself #leadwithintegrity #authenticleadership

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