The disruption caused by the pandemic and remote work have led to greater emphasis on being authentic at work. Recently I heard a Gen Z panel talk about how important it is to them to be able to be authentic in their workplaces. They want it. They demand it. And itâ€™s healthy.
Authentic leadership isnâ€™t a new concept, however. Bill George wrote Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value in 2003 and Harvard Business Review published an abbreviated article, Authentic Leadership, by Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew McLean, and Diana Mayer in 2007. The concept has steadily grown in popularity, because it resonates and it produces positive results.
What is it? The definition from TechTarget is, â€œAuthentic leadership is a type of management style in which people act in a real, genuine and sincere way that is true to who they are as individuals.â€ Itâ€™s perhaps more helpful to describe authentic leaders. According to Forbes:
1. Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine.
2. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results.
3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds.
4. Authentic leaders focus on the long-term.
Authentic leaders learn from their own life stories. They learn from difficult experiences, rather than become victims. They are self-reflective and know their authentic selves, their strengths and challenges. They live by their principles, even when doing so might cost them personally or professionally. They integrate their personal and professional lives. They empower others to lead and, in multiple ways, to become their own best selves.
Why does it matter? Authentic leaders are happier with themselves. Itâ€™s hard to be one person at work and another at home. Employees donâ€™t trust â€œleadersâ€ who live a faÃ§ade. By contrast, they trust and follow authentic leaders, leaders who are genuine, honest, caring and reliable. Employees trust leaders who use their strengths wisely, acknowledge their vulnerability. Employees trust leaders who live by their values and principles and empower their employees to develop and grow, to be authentic themselves.
Authentic leaders, inspire the trust and engagement of their teams, their employees and they deliver bottom-line results for their organizations.