PART 2: Five Top Tips to Help you Achieve Authentic Leadership

authentic-leadershipWow, still reeling from the results of the US Election?

In Part 1, (What Brexit and the U.S. Elections can teach us about Leadership), we talked about the new political landscape and how the electorate have lost trust in our politicians. People are seeing them as dishonest and inauthentic.

As a leader, how can you make sure your people remain engaged? You might want to consider your Authentic Leadership?

Here are our five tips to being more authentic as a leader.

  1. Build big relationships with the people you work with. Make them genuine not simply transactional. Get to know what they care about, what motivates and excites them so you can engage them at work. And be willing to share the same for yourself. This doesn’t mean being their best friend or knowing their deepest secrets – it simply means knowing who they are as people. Asking how their daughter’s football match has gone or how the preparations for their son’s wedding are going has a disproportionate effect on the leadership ‘bank account’. You are showing that you value them and that they matter to you.
  2. Listen to your people. Not to fix them or push your point home, but to genuinely understand things from their perspective. If you do this, they will tell you how to run your business effectively, where money can be saved and service can be improved. If you don’t, you will get the same ‘anti-establishment’ behaviours as politicians are currently getting.
  3. Involve your people in how to implement key decisions. Warning: this doesn’t mean ‘management by committee’. It’s asking the people who do the job to tell you how to make things work better. Involving staff at this early stage leads to a more productive, happier team and they stay with you longer. For leaders who are afraid that staff will come up with the ‘wrong answers’ (meaning ‘not their answers!’), this is not my experience. I’ve notice how much better the result is when I go with a process that has one or two imperfect areas in it but has the complete buy-in of the people using it, rather than a ‘perfect solution’ from me that the people haven’t engaged in.
  4. Show appropriate vulnerability. Be prepared to say that you don’t know or that you were wrong. Don’t lie to your team – they will see through it in an instant. What leaders fear is that people will see them as weak if they admit they are not perfect – in fact, the opposite is true. Strength in leadership comes from showing your human side and connecting with people at a different level.
  5. Have honest conversations. Don’t dress things up or beat around the bush. People prefer to be treated as adults and to know what you are thinking, even if it is sometimes hard to hear. Keep it about the job or behaviour, don’t make it personal – focus on what you want to see going forward rather than what has been seen in the past. Be clear about improvements you expect and how these will be observed and reviewed. People will still disagree with your assessment of them but they will respect you for sharing your opinion and being honest with them.

In business, there are other aspects of authentic leadership but these five areas are a good start. We believe authentic leadership is the key to maximising productivity and helping your people be their best more of the time.

Do any of the five tips resonate with you and your leadership? Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

David Tomkinson on 07710 003029. david@andpartnership.com