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Is Authenticity the most Important Trait of a Successful Leader?

18 December 2015

With some of the unique stressors facing organisations today, there is renewed focus on what constitutes a great leader. Research shows that it’s an authentic one.

Considering the amount of past corporate scandals, you could easily be led to believe that authenticity and integrity were not something to which leaders paid much attention.

Times are changing and with the complex challenges facing organisations today, there is renewed focus on authentic leadership. Today’s cultures are craving authenticity as they search for greater meaning and seek out leaders who not just show they care, but are also aligned to the greater good.

Many leaders are already realising the benefits of authentic leadership. Gen Y’s Managers know they need to lead more with the heart if they are to get the best out of their staff and more and more research is proving that people are happiest at work when they feel they are making a difference, and living to their purpose. Let’s get honest here; productive and high performing staff ultimately lead to a better bottom line.

So what are some of the most common traits of an authentic leader?

  1. Compassion - Being a compassionate leader means being able to respond to the needs of not just employees but also the needs of those people external to the organisations such as the local community. Authentic leaders tend to look at the ‘greater good’ and for them, it is important to make a real difference to those they work with. It is compassion with true purpose.

  2. Connection - Authentic leaders recognise that each person is unique and has differing needs, wants and values. They also recognise that employees like to be valued and rewarded and seek out reward and recognition schemes which staff resonate with. They respond to people as individuals recognizing their differences.

  3. Communication - Authentic leaders have open channels of communication. They recognise the need to communicate so that other people feel part of what is happening in the organisations. They invite people to join into conversations and encourage feedback. Their vision is often a response to the need of the community and they encourage other people to accompany them on their journey to a better place.

  4. An authentic leader has great self-awareness. They understand the impact they have on other people. It is important to them to adjust their approach so that it makes the most effective impact according to the needs of other people. In this strong sense of self, they have the ability to be resourceful, encourage and empower others and remain positive even in times of adversity.

  5. They have a need for continuous learning. A good leader is aware that there is always something new to learn and they can always improve their knowledge and the way they use their knowledge. They are open minded and are not complacent in their knowledge of themselves and the world around them.

  6. They strive for good conversations including an everyday coaching approach. Great coaching conversations create opportunity for employees to be accountable for their success and become empowered.

  7. A great listener – Authentic leaders take the time to actively listen to the people around them.  They consistently listen out for new opportunities and solutions. They also realise the importance of good listening skills and that people feel far more engaged when they are listened to.

  8. From a space of positive intent and caring they offer and share feedback creating opportunity for new choices and behaviors. They are also equally keen to receive 360 feedback with openness and look for ways in which they can develop themselves.  

  9. An authentic leader adopts a strengths based approach rather than using a deficit model. They use their own strengths to draw out the strengths of others. They do not spend too much time focusing on the weaknesses of other people.

  10.  They lead from the heart, and the head.

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