It can sometimes be difficult assessing whether a leader is being totally real with us. The words coming out of their mouth might sound like they know what they are talking about and their tone seems authoritative. Yet there is something about them that doesn’t add up. We are feeling disconnected from a conversation and we don’t know why. I worked with a woman who was confusing to read. On one hand she was a successful business developer and often asked me to help her with projects. And in another way she would challenge my every decision and action. It was impossible to know what she was really thinking.
Have you ever felt that way about a colleague or boss? Were you frustrated that you weren’t completely clear on where they stood or what their true intentions were?
Here are five roads to authentic leadership:
1. MAKE SURE YOUR MESSAGE IS CLEAR
You probably have been in conversations or meetings where the information being shared seemed confusing. Facts and directives were being spoken but in a puzzling manner. When leaders aren’t clear in what they have to say they are not being authentic. In fact people often misread those words. So the first road to travel down towards authenticity is stating your message with crystal clear clarity. To be our clearest it can sometimes be helpful to:
- Write something out before presenting your points.
- Put the ideas in order that makes sense.
- Practice out loud what you want to say because the written word can often be uncomfortable to say.
2. BE AS TRANSPARENT AS POSSIBLE
To develop authenticity leaders must be as open as possible by including all the information necessary for the person they are working with. When leaders leave out critical facts team members often deliver incorrect conclusions. Additionally, when we lead with incomplete data we deplete our credibility. Transparency is a key authentic leadership trait.
3. LISTEN ACTIVELY TO ALL COUNTER POINTS
In the situation I mentioned earlier, the woman never wanted to listen to my questions or my concerns. Projects had to be done her way, never willing to address potential obstacles. Traveling down this road only led me to lose respect for her and her authenticity. When leaders strategically listen:
- They develop rapport with colleagues and team members.
- They create more impactful end results.
- They empower others to grow and cultivate confidence.
- They become authentic leaders.
4. ALWAYS BE TRUTHFUL
Being honest even if we are disclosing unpopular viewpoints or information is what authentic leaders do. When people we partner with aren’t truthful in how they feel or what they are honestly thinking, it is highly unlikely a meaningful work relationship will occur. It can also lead to confusing deliverables and a great deal of conflict. I have witnessed senior leaders bickering over outcomes because truthful information and ideas were never disclosed.
5. ALLOW YOUR HEART TO LEAD THE WAY
The final road to journey down for authentic leadership is leading with our hearts. Leaders who take into consideration how team members feel and can see challenges through another person’s perspective are empathetic leaders. They don’t feel sorry for their colleagues but rather try to understand why they may be acting in a certain way. When leaders lean into what is important to other people, they will become authentic leaders.
What others roads do you travel to be an authentic leader?