What is an Authentic leader?
We have heard much about the importance of being an authentic and sincere leader, but what exactly does that mean and how do we become one?
Authenticity and sincerity is not something that can be achieved overnight by any leader.
It can take aspiring leaders many years before their personal character is evident in their leadership style.
Authenticity and sincerity are not tools of leadership, they are a part of our personal character.
“It is not possible to be authentic and sincere as a leader if the leader is fake and insincere as a person”.
Authentic is YOU, the real person, the person that you are at home, with your friends, attending work or social functions with your peers, the normal everyday person that you are.
People in positions of leadership often wear a separate persona, acting in a manner that is not true to their personal character. This allows them to display that they are the leader and in command, however, this can be perceived as inauthentic.
Sincerity, on the other hand takes many different forms.
At times, as a leader you will need to inform people of their deficiencies or short comings. It is your intent behind this conversation that determines whether you are being sincere or not. The real question is whether you are sincerely interested in helping this person become better or is your feedback driven by your own hidden agenda?
If you want your people to think of you as authentic and sincere then you need to understand them and they need to understand you. Talk to your people, engage in conversations with them, talk about topics that interest them, that are about them and their lives, go beyond company business and demonstrate your interest in their personal lives (up to a point).
This can form the foundation of “empathy”.
Empathising with your people helps you understand how they are thinking and feeling and allows you to make adjustments to your decisions to achieve the best possible mutual outcome.
This does not mean that you will make decisions based solely on what your workforce want, (after all you are running a business), but it does afford you the understanding of when you may need to make a decision to relieve some of the pressures and frustrations from your people.
Empathising also communicates that you understand the pressures or frustrations that the people you lead are facing. This is something that people appreciate and can help in them perceiving you as authentic and sincere.
Leaders should engage with all types of people, cultures, sexes, religions and social classes etc. This keeps leaders grounded and can help them learn different perspectives relating to life and business.
Talking with people improves communication, perspective, confidence, character, empathy, knowledge and wisdom. These traits are essential for an authentic and sincere leader.
It can take a lot of time and effort before the leader is perceived as authentic and sincere. It needs to be remembered that it only takes a single insincere move or decision for them to doubt the leaders sincerity and authenticity.
Tamati Curtis is the director of Leadership and Business development at Curtis Part Group. Helping men reach their fullest potential is one of the driving forces behind his life’s purpose.