Being an authentic leader is what we all crave. But in our day to day interactions we are often required to undertake activities which pull us away from being authentic. This can makes us feel fake or uncomfortable and these feelings are transparent to those around us.
Karissa Thacker is a workplace psychologist, executive coach, author and expert on the art and science of authentic leadership. Her most recent book identifies the four components of being an authentic leader:
Self Awareness – authentic leaders have a clear picture of who they are and who they are not. They are prepared to open up and explore opportunities with intense curiosity. Authentic leaders move outside their comfort zone to take on assignments that are slightly risky and expansive – there’s a chance that they won’t deliver. This constant ‘testing’ enables them to understand at a greater level just exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Internalised moral perspective – authentic leaders understand that authenticity is not about being neutral but rather it is about understanding what their values are and embodying those values.
Transparency – this is about being open and honest. Some people may have a very open disposition and find they reveal too much about how they are feeling, for instance, in their body language or facial gestures – they are too transparent. Others may need to dial this up – they are too closed and don’t share enough of how they are feeling (the Queen comes to mind here). Transparency is like the sun, correct exposure helps us grow and flourish but too much can result in painful sunburn. Authentic leaders are aware of this and use this transparency to good effect.
Balanced processing or unbiased processing. Authentic leaders blend their own thinking with others without a bias towards their own view. Often, when listening to others, individuals prioritise their own thinking ahead of what others are saying. Their thinking is highlighted in big YELLOW letters or emboldened (and everyone else is in 9 pt font) . The challenge comes when they ‘see’ the answer before others and yet need to keep listening and not close down. Authentic leaders develop strategies such as taking notes, or deliberately asking the opinion of all those others around them to ensure everyone is heard and seen to be heard.
What to do:
- Ask for and take on feedback from others to build self awareness
- Undertake work on understanding your values such as this questionnaire – Personal values survey or Your top 5 values exercise.
- Work mindfully – ask yourself ‘How can I be more authentic when I am in this meeting, reading this blog, conducting this interview, completing this deadline?’
- Tune into your authenticity meter – when you’re doing something ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, how authentic am I being?
At Chiswick Consulting we work with leaders and teams to develop greater understanding of values, strengths and meaning at work. This powerful blend enables individuals to develop their leadership style – in an authentic and genuine way. Contact Pam Kennett at Chiswick Consulting to learn more.