In the UK and other parts of the world we’re looking at our political leaders and making assessments and assumptions on what they might bring to us. The same for high profile business leaders in the media. And a word I see used often in leadership is authentic. Can this leader relate to us and are they authentic ask. In many ways it feels overly dramatic – I mean when we apply to us, we are just ‘us” at work, so what could it mean to be more authentic, especially in our leadership development?
Authentic leadership is a concept that has gained significant traction in recent years. A study on employees’ perception of authentic leadership found it was the strongest predictor of job satisfaction and having authentic leaders positively impacts work-related attitudes and happiness.
But what are the core elements of authentic leadership and how might they benefit both us and our organisations. I feel especially it is a leadership style that emphasises transparency, honesty, and self-awareness.
Most recent research suggests authentic leaders are quite self-aware. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and are willing to admit when they make mistakes. This self-awareness allows them to build strong relationships with their team members and create a culture of trust and respect. Indeed, my own research shows that people who understand their own skills and feel positive about them are better equipped to face the challenges ahead.
There’s some work to say that authentic leaders are transparent. It’s a fine line to overshare and create unease in team but authentic leaders do find a way to communicate openly with their team members and are willing to share information about the organisation’s goals, challenges, and successes. They also lift up team members. This transparency really helps to build trust and fosters a sense of shared purpose among team members.
And also, the research in this area shows that authentic leaders are empathetic. They need to show the side of them. They really understand the needs and concerns of their team members and are willing to listen to their feedback. This empathy helps to create a positive work environment where team members feel valued and supported.
What kind of things can we do to develop that side of us? One important thing is to Lead by Example. Watching the politics around the world and in the UK, we can see that the public reacts negatively when a leader advocates one thing for the public but they themselves take another course of action. They lose credibility by reducing their authenticity. Authentic leaders set the tone for their team by modelling what they expect from others. In the most basic sense, they are willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their team members to achieve shared goals.
Use in the workplace
I feel that authentic leadership is a powerful tool for building strong teams and achieving organisational success. By being self-aware, transparent, and empathetic, leaders can create a culture of trust and respect that fosters innovation and growth. But especially by being honest.
To talk to us about authentic leadership and organisational development; get in touch.
Blog by Dr Naeema Pasha