If we are honest, having a leadership title has never been an indicator of a great leader. As an aspiring, or experienced leader, place a demand on yourself to learn to lead authentically. Today’s professionals are expecting the smart and well-equipped leader to be the leader who has soft skills that focus on building relationships and not just the bottom line. Leaders who have their pulse on business but who also recognize that the driving force behind any level of accomplishment is the value created in others, are leaders who will receive long-term success. Below are 5 principles of authentic leadership to embrace.
1. Be Transparent
Do people know you? Authentic leadership requires you to be open and share who you are with others. Invest the time and effort into developing and cultivating relationships that help others to connect to you as a person. People that you lead should not just feel, but trust that they can openly communicate and engage with you without judgement. Being transparent is sharing enough to demonstrate to others that you are confident and that you care. It helps make sense of your values and behaviors.
2. Have a Plan and Share It
The question is not, do you know what the plan is but do your people know? As an authentic leader, you can’t hide, protecting your leadership territory, and expect people to sincerely follow. You understand, embrace, and communicate the vision. You must have a plan and a strategy that provides the roadmap and expectations to achieve the vision. Authentic communication and a path for people to follow is key to their investing and taking ownership, not mere buy-in, with you, to move forward on one accord.
3. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In leadership, when to act must be balanced. When establishing yourself as an authentic leader, it’s important to communicate, set a course of action, and then act. It’s your actions that others pay attention to and hold accountable. They will follow your lead and the results will be amazing. To get the best out of those around you, show them through your actions and behaviors how to stay determined, embrace change, and overcome challenges.
4. Develop Others
Authentic leaders seek out opportunities to develop their people. They care, are confident, and understand when they equip other’s, they better equip themselves and the business. Seeing beyond your own interests and involving others in their own growth will create lasting impact and influence. As a leader, don’t save, but be willing to freely give of yourself and your knowledge to those around you. The value received will always outweigh everything else.
5. Avoid Perfection
Being perfect and expecting perfection is unrealistic. We are flawed and leadership does not exempt you from making mistakes. Authentic leaders accept their mistakes and use them as fuel to learn. Be open to guidance from others and trying different approaches. It is important to not be “on” all the time, humility and toughness go together in leadership. Learn to be ok with both and you’ll be less apt to push yourself to achieve perfection. Striving for it will do just fine.
Susan – The Soft Skills Success Coach