What are the characteristics of an authentic leader? We know from studies that leaders are usually made, not necessarily born with all the ingredients for success. So becoming authentic seems to encompass both learning as well as possessing integrity and character.
I would take it a step further and say that authenticity involves honesty and being “real” with others. Remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? The “realness” of the rabbit came from being worn and adored. When leaders are open and honest about what is happening in an organization, then their followers believe them. In fact, to the team members, these “real” leaders are approachable and serve as mentors, paying attention to what their team cares about. They can be counted on to share trustworthy information and as a result, the team adores them.
Authentic leaders make personal growth an important goal.
- They know that lifelong learning is central to being experts in their respective fields.
- They have a passion to be open to new ideas and have fun exploring different viewpoints.
- They also encourage those around them to learn new skills and concepts.
- They encourage the sharing of ideas from everyone at every level in their company because each person has valuable contributions to present.
In a recent leadership program I presented, one of the participants arrived feeling very exhausted from her challenging work schedule. She was overwhelmed and very quiet. As we moved through the morning, she started to come out of her shell and become totally engaged in what we were learning. By the end she was so thrilled by what she had mastered that she forgot about her initial feelings. She was excited to share her new tools with her team. She was an authentic leader striving to be open to new possibilities to transport herself and her team. She was “real” and our class could feel it.