Why leaders must be authentic

Authenticity can transform a good leader into a great one as the ability to be authentic in a leadership role can, in turn, foster the development of authenticity in others.

You may know leaders who show the opposite traits of authenticity?  They are the leaders who tell people what they want to hear, often saying one thing and then doing another.  They are the leaders who always take the most popular route with their decision making, rarely taking a stance on anything.

Authentic leaders, on the other hand, are true to themselves and their own set of beliefs.  They are both motivated by and act on their own personal convictions.  This personal truth is the backbone of a great leader as they show strength in their integrity.  Quite simply they are who they say they are.

Neuroscience has shown us that it is not always easy to be authentic.  Human brains are dual-wired.  One system encourages people to behave as expected and say the words the listeners want to hear.  This is the system that urges people towards conformity and belonging, which is part of the regular human survival instinct.  The other wiring meets the need for individuality and allows people to have original and differing thoughts.  Authenticity is based on a fine balance between the two.

Balanced, authentic leadership has a positive effect on those that follow.  Trust is developed between the two positions helping to build confidence and optimism in a given environment.  Individuals and groups tend to respond well to authentic leaders generally going over and above what is expected of them and enjoying a happy and more positive work environment.

An authentic leader is one who is clearly in touch with their own values and strengths.  They have a tendency to possess and inspire passion in their chosen field and have their own unique vision.

To achieve this level of authenticity, a person must have a clear understanding of:

  • Who they are
  • What they are good at
  • What is important
  • What inspires them
  • What they want

Greatness can then be achieved as decisions are made and actions realised in accordance with their own self awareness.

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was definitely onto something when she said this.  While money can be a great motivating factor, there are many other benefits that demonstrate that being true to yourself will definitely prove your worth to those around you.

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