Being Authentic in our Leadership Style
By Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa, Ph.D.
Are you authentic when you are leading? Do other people feel they really truly know you and what you stand for? Author Bill George (2003) writes, “We need new leadership. We need authentic leaders, people of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations” (pg. 5). In writing, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, Bill George challenges readers to become authentic leaders. He further describes authentic leaders as leaders who demonstrate a passion for purpose, consistently practice their own values, and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. These leaders are people who are able to establish meaningful relationships with others that last a long time. In short, authentic leaders are leaders who know themselves very well.
It is really hard for us to be authentic leaders if we are not really sure who we are and what we stand for. Self-Awareness is one of the top leadership traits in various leadership styles. In Servant Leadership, Awareness is an important aspect to a leader. Does the leader know himself/herself as well as what is going on around him/her. For Servant Leaders, the question that comes up is one of whether or not other people feel the leader knows what is going on in the organization….and does the leader even care? If the followers in the organization do not believe the leader has a good grasp on what is going on, then the followers will tend to do whatever they see best. Leaders are more effective when they know what is going on and what to do about it.
The idea of Self-Awareness is examined in the Emotional Intelligence research in leadership studies. For a leader to be effective in developing strong relationships with others, the leader must be aware of his/her own strengths and weaknesses. This level of awareness is critical if the leader wants to achieve the most effectiveness and lead organizations with passion and commitment. Effective leaders are well matched with organizations that fit into the leader’s strengths.
Authentic leaders create and build companies that are guided by a mission and vision that are consistent with a set of shared values. As George writes, authentic companies share the following five characteristics: Purpose: Mission and vision, Values: Company values, Heart: Empowering employees to serve customers, Relationships: Enduring and committed organizations, and Self-Discipline: Results for all stakeholders. He describes authentic companies as organizations that place an emphasis on stewardship to the people they serve. George continues to write, “authentic leaders know that only by pursuing their missions with passion and commitment can they create sustainable value for their customers, their employees, and their shareholders” (p. 70).
The ways in which authentic leaders who build and lead authentic companies achieve success in the marketplace is by avoiding pitfalls to sustainable growth. These leaders understand that their responsibilities go way beyond the bottom line success of the company.
The following tips will help you as you work toward becoming a more authentic leader.
· Develop your sense of self-awareness by listening to what others have to say about your strengths and your weaknesses
· Find out what your life’s passion is
· Stay true to your purpose in life