Are you the same person at work that you are at home? That’s a question that many leaders are often asked during the course of their workday, and for most of them, they are not the same person. The differences between a work persona and their authentic home persona can be night and day. The complete introvert can become a complete extrovert at work or vice versa.
In authentic leadership theory, the goal is to have a leader walk their talk no matter where they might be. There is no pretending to be someone different. You are always your authentic self. Why is it important? If you feel that leadership is a form of acting, then you essentially feel like leadership is a lie. If that is case, then your employees have every reason not to trust you.
Why Is Being Authentic So Important?
Authenticity goes beyond the simple concept of honesty. At its core, it becomes the foundation of how every relationship is built. If you show your real self to those who follow you, then you are creating relationships that can withstand the test of time. Authentic relationships are built on rock. Fake relationships are built on beach sand. When a hurricane comes in to affect your business, and it will, where would you rather have your foundation built?
Authenticity also has one unique feature: it is focused on results. The goal isn’t to stroke an ego or find more personal power within an organization. Authentic leaders keep the Golden Rule in mind. They put the mission first and themselves second because that’s what they would want others to do for them.
Authenticity Isn’t Just About Logic
Far too often we feel like we need to hide our emotions from others. Sometimes we feel like we would offend someone if we showed them how angry or passionate we are about a certain subject. Sometimes we will offend people based on our emotions. The authentic leader, however, realizes that emotions are a strength – not a weakness. Being authentic means that you lead with your heart just as often as you need with your mind.
This creates a directed manner communication that is transparent and open. There is not a back-and-forth that goes on where people feel like they need to clarify what is being said so that there isn’t any room to read between the lines. There is empathy present because there is a motion present. Because location is so concise authenticity leads to faster and more successful outcomes, on average, because questions don’t remain hidden.
The authentic leader is also focused on the future just as much as they are focused on the present. They realize that value can be achieved in the long term just as much as they can be achieved in the short term. By looking into the future to see where the mission needs to go, authentic leaders are able to nurture their team so that goals can be met effectively. That’s why this approach almost always pays large dividends out over time.