I learn so much from the participants in my workshops and coaching sessions. They inspire me to try new things and be more open-minded. They share profound stories of both triumph and defeat as we work through ways to grow, be more accountable and be generous to others. I am always impressed how willing they are to reflect on their past and current work and personal situations with a desire to learn. In my eyes, they are the “real thing” and that is no easy feat. Have you ever wondered what it looks like to be an authentic leader?
Step One- Be honest about who you are
Many of us have a challenging time accepting our good, bad and ugly sides. Of course we want to try to present our strongest qualities all the time, but that just isn’t an accurate representation of our entire character. We are human after all and that means we have lessons to learn, skills to master and knowledge to absorb. We don’t always make the best decisions that may lead to imperfect end results. So what! The key is to acknowledge where we excel and where we fall short.
Step Two- Be open to learning new ways
In my last week’s Communication workshop, a participant arrived feeling that this was just another program they knew all about. How many courses does one really need to take in communication? I could feel the frustration, yet knew I needed to reach out and expand their preconceived notion of the day. Well something happened and this person decided to become part of the fun and learning. They became engaged before they knew it and didn’t try to stop themselves but rather joined in with energy. They consciously made the decision to just stay open and what a contribution they made!
Step Three- Recognize how you are feeling
Although it is often important to separate emotions from making objective decisions, it is equally important to reveal how one feels about an issue. This is important because it allows us to admit how our emotion is impacting our actions or inactions. For example, if we feel that our boss is constantly micromanaging us, then we might miss an assignment that is a growth possibility. If we feel that another department is taking advantage of us, we may overlook an opportunity to collaborate. Just be aware of your emotions.
Step Four- Commit to taking action
One cannot be authentic without following through on what they said they would do. At the end of each of my coaching sessions we jointly decide on the action steps to be taken before we meet again. Accomplishing or at least attempting to tackle those activities is essential to building trust and meeting goals. We are committing to each other to genuinely give our agreed objectives a try and then showing up next time with what we did and learned. It’s not important that all was accomplished; it is essential that the effort was made.
How do you show that you are an authentic leader? What steps have you taken to emulate authenticity?