Understanding Why Authentic Leadership is Important
Leadership is a pretty big buzz word that’s regularly misused – with the terms leadership and management often interchanged (incorrectly). Adding to the mix, the term authentic leadership is also starting to be used more. But what is authentic leadership?
Simply put – it’s a person who shows up as their authentic self. It goes beyond taking leadership courses, implementing the hot lesson of the year or seeing leadership as a role.
When you’re working with an authentic leader, you feel it. Why? Because they are truly engaged, passionate and connected to not only the work they do, but those around them.
Have you ever worked with someone who inspires you? Someone who gives you their full attention when you’re talking and really listens to what you’re saying? When you’re with them you can’t help but soak up some of their energy.
These are the people whose leadership position is a natural extension of who they are as a person and professional.
They are their authentic self and encourage others to fully show up.
Let me give you an example of an authentic leader I’ve the pleasure of working with. This person is an educator, who has worked with kids for over 40 years and continues to bring passion, fresh ideas and energy to the job.
At this stage of his career, he could easily sit back and rest on his experience, approaching his role as an administrator. But he knows, that as the leader, he sets the tone for the entire school. His leadership is key to guiding the direction of the school community.
Letting others shine
Each time I speak with him, his authentic leadership shines through. His smile is genuine, he asks specific questions about my child, showing he’s taken the time to get to know them as a person, and is open to not only hearing new ideas, but also implementing them.
The result? He’s created an environment where students and staff have a safe space to be curious, explore new ideas, be creative and occasionally fail. Knowing that innovation is the by-product of creativity, his authentic leadership style produces the environment for ideas, students and staff to flourish.
The line between who he is as a person and how he shows up as a professional is invisible. It’s clear he’s not putting on a work face, be is leading with authenticity.
We need more authentic leaders
Brene Brown talks a lot about how vulnerability is a key part of authenticity. This can be a scary place for many people.
It can be uncomfortable for some in leadership positions to let people know they don’t have all the answers or are a regular human being who has insecurities and fears.
But by being authentic, we are able to strengthen our connections to others.
As we continue to navigate challenging times, authentic leaders are key to helping people feel connected, get inspired and able to let their greatness shine.
If you’re part of an organization that is struggling with the great resignation, take a look at how it’s run. Does the culture and those at the top encourage a management approach (top-down style) or does it foster and develop authentic leaders?
Often, you’ll find the organizations with the greatest turnover take a management approach.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to work with an authentic leader, how do they show up? What impact do they have on those around them? How do they inspire you?
And if you’re an authentic leader yourself – thank you! You are the change many people and organizations need as we move forward through this pandemic.