Authentic leadership consists of inherent tensions: You must remain true to who you are and at the same time adapt or conform to a situation all the while thinking about your worker’s needs. Inside our leadership development consulting that we’ve completed with executives the following management practices stand out:
- Grow to be a situational sensor. To achieve success, you want to hone your context-reading talents and your capacity to rewrite that context.
- Start by tuning into your organization’s “frequency,” by amassing and interpreting soft information.
- Listen. Examine. Pick up on nonverbals. Pay particular interest to the feelings and motivations of the people who affect your work. Only then are you able to react as authentically, adapting to the context without losing your sense of self? Only then are you able to start to transform the situation with symbolic moves and decisive behavior to create an alternative, inspiring reality for your employees?
- Understand and show private persona more often. Authentic leadership calls for some self-knowledge, not years of therapy. You must decide what’s special about you that works with others. What core values compels you? How have your life experiences shaped you? What strengths differentiate you? What weaknesses (stopping short of fatal flaws) show that you need others? Then, using your knowledge of your employees and the unique conditions you encounter, decide which elements of your private persona to reveal; to reinforce your relationships and encourage the development of others.
- Get close. However, maintain your distance. This is after all leadership, not friendship. There is a magnificent way for the truly authentic leader to be the boss and “friend.” Genuinely caring is a form of friendship. Successful leaders manage relationships through understanding when to empathize or get personal and when to step back to keep employees focused on their dreams. To completely recognize what makes employees tick you need to get close, to ask questions that move past professional aspirations to learn their interests, goals, and passions.
- Communicate with care. Successful communication demands an appreciation of the message, the messenger, your employees and your personal strengths and weaknesses as a communicator. Will e-mail do or is a private connection important for achievement? Create a clear and compelling vision. One which articulates your personal values and vision, one which creates a vibrant image of where your employees fit in. To make certain that they translate their power into an output aside from applause, include clear, actionable steps on what needs to be accomplished and why.
Ask yourself, “If they knew me like I know me, would they want to be led by me?” And then, make adjustments accordingly. For this truism is correct, “It is better real on the inside than the outside for that is where real leadership lives. The kind that changes lives.” Hurry! So much depends on you.
We’re here to help you. Reach out to me. Jim