Advertising

6 Distinct Characteristics of an Authentic Leadership

6 Distinct Characteristics of an Authentic Leadership
Advertising

Investing time to develop authenticity is worthwhile. Authentic leadership is important because it encourages moral integrity, open and genuine, communication.[1]

Bill George, Harvard University professor the author of the book, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, states that leadership programs should put its efforts to training leaders to develop their authenticity instead of trying to redefine what authenticity is.

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra suggests that:[2]

“Authenticity has emerged as the gold standard for leadership.”

It is in a leader’s best interest to work on refining their authenticity to help develop their employee’s attitudes, commitment, and creativity, which can also lead to an improvement in their corporate performance.

In this article, you will learn six ways of developing your authenticity as a leader.

Why Should You Strategically Develop Authenticity?

The short answer is because naive authenticity can backfire.

Critics of Authentic leadership, University of Pennsylvania’s professor Adam Grant, said that “be yourself” is actually terrible advice unless you are Oprah.”[3]

I fully agree with Grant that people may have thoughts and feelings for others that sometimes are better left unspoken.

Can you imagine what would happen to a unit’s culture if the leader explicitly says to his subordinates what he thinks about them, especially if those feelings are negative? Toxicity is the term to comes to my mind.

Advertising

Stating to a colleague that her hair is ugly would not be great advice either, even though it would be an authentic statement and assuming that the leader believed that his colleague had ugly hair.

Much strategic planning has to occur for authentic leadership to work.

Before we talk about the six ways to assist you with developing your authenticity, it might be a good idea to strategize how you are going to develop this skillset.

Understanding Self-Monitoring

To me, the process starts with understanding the differences in self-monitoring.

According to psychologist Mark Snyder, there are two types of monitoring: high and low self-monitors.[4]

We learn from Snyder that high self-monitors are characterized by being people who modify the way they present themselves to others socially by interpreting social clues. Their internal feelings and the outside world are not always in sync.

Low self-monitors are characterized by people who tend to behave according to their inner values and beliefs. This is an important consideration because depending on your type of self-monitoring, your ability to act authentically will vary.

Do you belong to the high or low self-monitors?

If you do not know, feel free to take the Self-Monitoring Scale.[5] It might be quite beneficial for you to know this.

6 Ways to Develop Your Authenticity

To develop your authenticity, do these following activities and take notes on which ones worked the best for you. The following exercises are exactly what I do to refine my strategic authentic leadership style.

Advertising

1. Ask for Honest Feedback

First and foremost, be humble enough to ask and listen to how your team members perceive you and your actions. You should remember that you are not perfect and that you have flaws like everyone else.

Keep in mind that the way you see yourself is not necessarily the way that others see you. When speaking with them, take notes. After speaking with them, engage in self-reflection, along with what they shared, and take action.

It is not always easy to receive honest feedback. Sometimes, receiving feedback may hurt our feelings, but this should not be the case. Learning to receive honest feedback without feeling hurt is an essential aspect of authentic leadership.

2. Work on Self-Awareness

As stated above, how you see yourself is not always in sync with how others see you. Engage in introspection once in a while. Self-reflection is an essential aspect of being an effective leader.

How is your tone of voice sounding like? Are you matching your words with your behaviors? How are you dressing up? How is your office arranged? Are they in alignment with your true persona?

The power of self-awareness is unlimited, and a high level of reflection is beneficial to most aspects of our lives. This makes it a critical characteristic if you want to be an authentic leader.

3. Analyze Your Life Story and Struggles

You need to better understand who you are in order to develop authenticity.

I was bullied in school and failed miserably academically in Brazil. But these experiences helped me become a caring leader who listens to the advice given by my team.

This applies to you too. What you experienced in life help define who you are now. And it does not matter if these are mostly bad experiences or good ones. What matters is how you view them and use them to improve yourself.

As Bill George would say:

Advertising

“As leaders discover their truth, their True North, they gain confidence and resilience to face difficult situations.”[6]

4. Be Consistent

It is difficult to be authentic if your rhetoric is not consistent.

Be careful with contradicting yourself with directives and expectations. You must give clear directions to all your team members and have reasonable expectations of completion.

Being inconsistent with delivering messages to your team is likely to negatively impact your ability to build authenticity.

If you are not consistent in what you say, others will see you as a hypocrite, and this will negatively affect how others will see you and your leadership capabilities.

5. Appreciate Your Team’s Victories

Learn to think that victories, even small ones, are worth celebrating. Celebrating success is always a good policy.

Celebrating success authentically is a great practice. Give credit to team members when credit is due. Enable team members to share their personal victories as well. Provide a token of appreciation whenever possible.

Choose to be a celebratory hero instead of a quiet naysayer.

6. Practice Self-Discipline

Never, under any circumstance, scream. Screamers run the risk of finishing the long journey alone.

Work on minimizing your weaknesses, go for daily walks and take a break, practice social listening and accept the fact that you will make mistakes.[7] It is okay as long as you have the discipline to fix the error.

Advertising

No one starts fully disciplined already. Like most things, mastering self-discipline requires a lot of practice and patience.

If you are having a hard time disciplining your self, this article may help you build self-discipline: How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

Final Thoughts

Stagnation will not help you with authentic leadership.

Leading others to perform to the best of their abilities is a task that leaders should strive for. What good leaders do is help their team reach higher levels of productivity by being more authentic.

What is your monitoring style? High or Low?

Keep learning. Ask for honest feedback and listen to what your team members tell you.

Work on self-awareness and how others see you. Engage in introspection and re-analyze your life story and struggles.

Be consistent with your speech, appreciate the accomplishments of your team members, and practice self-discipline. Be humble and never stop learning.

Authentic leadership, when developed strategically, can make you become the best leader you can be.

More Leadership Tips

Featured photo credit: ThisisEngineering RAEng via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Deloitte: How Authentic Leadership and Inclusion Benefit Organisations
[2] Harvard Business Review: The Authenticity Paradox
[3] The New York Times: Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice.
[4] American Psychological Association: Self Monitoring: Appraisal and reappraisal
[5] Open-Source Psychometrics Project: Self-Monitoring Scale
[6] Harvard Business School: The Truth About Authentic Leaders
[7] Forbes: 5 Proven Methods For Gaining Self Discipline

More by this author

Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Dr. Almeida is a college professor and department chair who has taught over a thousand students with questions relating to technology and leadership.

3 Tips for Reprogramming the Subconscious Mind to Reach Goals Reactive Vs Proactive: How To Be Proactive And Not Reactive 6 Strategic Ways to Aim High and Achieve Your Goals What Leaders Can Learn from Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles 6 Distinct Characteristics of an Authentic Leadership

Trending in Smartcut

1 10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner 2 8 Time Management Strategies for Busy People 3 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 4 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 5 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next