How practising authentic leadership benefits you and your organisation
In the words of the great Oscar Wilde, ‘be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’ And when it comes to becoming a great and inspiring leader, truer words have never been spoken.
Leaders who can relate to their teams and encourage them to perform well are critical to a company’s success. According to a 2006 study in the Leadership and Organisation Journal, business leaders that are authentic in their approach have a positive impact on their teams’ morale and increase their job satisfaction. This is why more and more seniors are learning to become authentic leaders within their organisations.
At the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), our Fast-Track MBA provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the dynamics of leadership. Learn how leadership applies to contemporary business practice, and discover what leadership traits, behaviours and attitudes get the most out of your team to make a positive impact on the culture and performance of an organisation. Check your eligibility for our MBA in just thirty seconds.
But what is authentic leadership? And how can it benefit you and your organisation? We’ve pulled together this comprehensive guide to explain the benefits of practising authentic leadership.
What is authentic leadership?
Authentic leadership isn’t new – in fact, it was first coined in the 1960s but became popular in 2003 after Bill George published his book, ‘Authentic Leadership’.
Being authentic requires leaders to have a secure understanding of themselves and their inner emotional states, as well as the ability and courage to discuss these feelings with their team members openly.
In simple terms, authentic leadership involves being yourself and making room for other people’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Authentic leaders also practise common sense and have a strong code of ethics – making them wildly different from other, more forceful seniors.
Why is authentic leadership important?
As an employee, bringing your concerns to an unpredictable or unsupportive manager can be daunting. Even discussing a new idea or informed opinion can be unnerving – especially if the team member feels that their supervisor will be discouraging.
If your employees always know what to expect from you in terms of attitude, language and demeanour, it encourages greater communication, happier workers and healthy company culture. Staff feel safe talking about their problems and that their manager truly listens to them.
The result? Strong working relationships between team members and their seniors and motivated employees. And when staff are happy and enthusiastic, the company can only benefit. Revenue will increase from new ideas, and the business will continue to grow.
What are the main components of authentic leadership?
According to George, authentic leadership consists of four main components.
Authentic leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. And while they are confident in their strongest skills, they understand that they have limitations.
Unlike other leaders who have a ‘work’ personality and a ‘home’ personality, authentic leaders are just themselves at all times. This means that they never put on a front in front of their team – they are comfortable showing their staff who they really are.
A true authentic leader examines both the pros and cons of every situation and takes on board the expertise and opinions of their team members. They encourage all workers to speak freely, making them a part of the decision-making process. And when staff feel listened to, conflict is reduced and new ideas can develop.
A transparent leader gives their honest opinion and willingly shares their thoughts and ideas when appropriate. They provide constructive and helpful feedback to their team but aren’t afraid to admit when they are wrong or have made a mistake.
Being a transparent, authentic leader inspires workers to be the same, improving their relationships with each other and creating a better work environment.
Strong moral compass
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy – especially if it doesn’t necessarily benefit you. But authentic leaders have a clear, internalised moral compass that motivates them to do the right thing – putting their employees and the company ahead of their own success.
Leaders who have a moral compass have strong values and ethical integrity. They don’t take credit for other people’s good work and own up when they produce less than desirable results.
How can I become an authentic leader?
Being an authentic leader isn’t something you’re born with – it’s a skill that needs to be taught and practised in order to become effective.
At AIB, we teach a number of leadership theories, including authentic leadership in the first subject of the MBA course, Leadership. During the authentic leadership module, you’ll gain insight into your approach to authentic leadership through self-assessments that score your authenticity as a leader, as well as opportunities to access your leadership style methods and how to improve your approach.
As you progress in the subject, you will have the chance to the chance to reflect on the different leadership styles you have learnt and your self-assessments. One of the assessments you may include developing a personal leadership plan with actional objectives and goals, allowing you to improve, grow and become a stronger authentic leader.
Practising authentic leadership in the workplace
Becoming self-aware is easier said than done. Many people lack the skills to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses and therefore don’t have a strong sense of who they are as a leader. But there are a few techniques that can help.
Asking for constructive criticism from your colleagues is always a great way to understand how you can improve in some areas. You can even keep a journal to reflect on your behaviour at a later date.
There are also many professional courses and workshops that teach students how to become more self-aware.
Identify what your values are
You can only truly understand and practise authentic leadership if you’re working towards something you truly believe in. So establish your core values and find out what drives you.
Once you know what your core values are, ensure that your actions and language match your belief system. This helps your team to trust your judgement.
Lead by example
Don’t just tell your team what to do – do it. By doing what you say you’re going to do, you set a powerful example of your company’s best working practices. It also builds trust amongst your workers.
Work on tasks other employees aren’t willing to do. This demonstrates responsibility and ownership and earns respect from your team.
It also shows your staff that the work they’re doing is a key part of building the business, prompting them to believe in what they do.
Practising authentic leadership takes time, patience, and skill. But with the right mindset, it can benefit you and your company to no end. Our Fast-Track MBA can teach you the skills to become an authentic leader. Through our leadership subject, you can develop your own leadership style in a way that benefits you, your colleagues and your business. Learn more about our courses.