In Coaching, Company Culture, Company Health, Employee Wellbeing, Leaders, Leadership and Management Development, Leadership Coaching, Organisational Coaching, Perceptions, Personal Development, Personal Growth, Self Investment

What is Authentic Leadership? 

Authentic leadership balances expressing one’s personality and managing those of the people you aspire to lead or influence. The ability to strike a balance—and preserve one’s values and beliefs in the process is what distinguishes great leaders from other executives. The challenge of great leadership is managing who you truly are, not the mask that can appear in the workplace, which is a paradox many find themselves co-habiting.

Authenticity accurately reflects aspects of the leader’s inner self to irradicate the playacting that can take place. Great leaders know which personality traits they should reveal to whom and when which comes with self-awareness and practice. Like a chameleon capable of adapting to the demands of a situation, face the people in a  room without losing themselves in the process. Opposed to the ideals instilled upon them or learnt behaviours from others – ‘be more like this and less like that, more like us”. Authentic leaders remain focused on where they’re going but never forget where they came from, anchoring their WHO at all times. They’re attuned to the environment and or situations that present themselves, relying on experience, both positive, negative and indifferent, to quickly understand the needs, expectations and concerns of the people they lead and influence.  Retaining their WHO supports defining the HOW to win acceptance in strong corporate and social cultures without questioning their WHY. Being your authentic self can feel uncomfortable, risky, and totally exposed, even naked, because, at times, geographical and or workplace cultural expectancy around behaviours can dictate a response. This weighs heavy on leaders where they feel the need to ‘fit in’.  How does one remove the mask and become congruent to self?


Developing Authenticity.

Authenticity, in this sense,  means you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely. To succeed in being you first, you need to establish who you are – know thy self. This alone requires the same or similar amount of vulnerability and honesty, leading to self-awareness, self-acceptance, mindfulness, and permitting to reset. It’s not easy, and it is uncomfortable. Be prepared to face all versions of yourself, the good, bad and indifferent.  Plus, a tremendous amount of vulnerability to engage in coaching conversations to support the transition.


Why Authenticity matters.

Put simply, it’s less exhausting than playacting which is made more complicated by the many social media platforms and ways of receiving news via an array of technology available today.  It spreads the word on what one should be or not and how to express one’s self. These potentially conflicting messages promote self-doubt and negative self-talk – I’m not enough, I’m not OK, everyone else is perfect, they know how to do this better than me’. These thoughts trigger other feelings and emotions, namely loneliness and disconnection from self and others. All contributors to decreasing the ability to be our authentic selves. Who has the energy for all of this? What’s the impact of living up to others expectations or values, and beliefs? Is it worth it?


Authenticity Rollercoaster.

There are so many aspects within our environment that consciously and subconsciously feed into how we feel and think, shaping values and beliefs, which colour how we view ourselves, including the perception of others thoughts on self. Equally, life experience from childhood is influenced by parents, family members, religion, teachers, society, peers and partners in adulthood, adding another layer of perception, determining how we choose to behave to ‘fit in, be liked, and not judged. It’s a rollercoaster.

Authenticity is at risk once inner conflict begins due to the imbalance of WHO versus BEING. Our adaptive self takes over – the mask slides into position.  Nevertheless, it’s not without purpose as it supports how we ‘rub along’ with social norms. Observationally, it suggests a pecking order where a person’s identity, their WHO – sits at the bottom or, worse still, has no place. Is that where anyone wants to be? 

Self-awareness, life milestones, and personal and professional ambitions may prompt one to dive deeper into being our true selves and become happier, healthier, comfortable, more authentic and productive human beings. What impact would that have on you,  those you lead and influence?


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