This two-part series on Authentic Leadership explores what authentic leadership is, why it matters, and how it can help build stronger connections between employees.
Part I outlined the benefits of authentic leadership and how it helps build team member connections.
In this post, we focus on five defining characteristics of authentic leaders and discuss strategies to strengthen your authentic leadership skills.
1. Purpose Driven:
Authentic leaders are guided by a strong sense of purpose. They draw upon the organization's mission and purpose to provide a clear vision of what the team should achieve (and why it matters). By aligning their actions and decisions with the organization's "why" and elevating connection to purpose, they inspire their teams and create a sense of meaning and direction.
To enhance your purpose-driven leadership skills:
Clearly articulate the organization's purpose to your team, creating a shared sense of mission.
Regularly revisit and communicate the purpose to stay focused and motivate others.
2. Values Focused:
Authentic leaders prioritize their values and ensure they are reflected in their leadership approach. They make decisions that align with their core beliefs, and the organization's core values, and act with integrity.
To strengthen your values-focused leadership skills:
Identify your core values and understand how they shape your leadership style.
Communicate your values consistently, both through words and actions.
Encourage and recognize behaviors that align with the organization's values.
Authentic leaders have a deep understanding of themselves, including their strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and triggers. This self-awareness allows them to lead with authenticity and make conscious choices.
To cultivate self-awareness as a leader:
Engage in regular self-reflection, seeking feedback from colleagues and mentors.
Practice mindfulness techniques to develop a better understanding of your thoughts and emotions.
Continuously strive to improve and grow based on self-awareness insights.
4. Effective Communicators:
Authentic leaders are skilled communicators who foster open and transparent dialogue. They listen actively, empathize, and convey their thoughts and ideas clearly.
To enhance your communication skills as an authentic leader:
Practice active listening and seek to understand before being understood.
Develop empathy by putting yourself in others' shoes and considering their perspectives.
Use clear and concise language when conveying messages, and be open to feedback.
5. Focused on Improvement:
Authentic leaders have a growth mindset and are committed to continuous improvement. They encourage learning, experimentation, and innovation within their teams.
To foster a focus on improvement as an authentic leader:
Encourage a learning culture by providing resources and opportunities for growth.
Recognize and celebrate efforts and progress.
Lead by example, showcasing your commitment to improvement through personal development.
By embracing these qualities and continuously striving to emulate them, leaders can inspire their teams, create a positive work environment, and drive long-term success. By implementing the suggested strategies, including cultivating self-awareness, communicating effectively, staying focused on values and purpose, and fostering a culture of improvement, you can elevate your leadership skills and make a lasting impact on those you lead.