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What Is an Authentic Leader?

Picture of a team putting hands together to take an oath. Good example of authentic leadership.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown

Do You Practice Authentic Leadership?

Most of us would like to think that we are being authentic as we lead others. But are we really? Do we consider exactly what authentic leadership is and how it plays out in day to day situations? Authenticity is a form of leadership that is open, honest, transparent and consistent. It breeds a positive workplace culture, one where your team feel that they know you, they can trust you and they can be confident in the knowledge that you will follow through on what you say.

Before a team can be confident in how well they know you, it is imperative that you know yourself. Well. Self-awareness is the very first step in becoming authentic, we must lead ourselves first.

When we know ourselves well it is easy to embrace our authentic self, we know who we are and we are comfortable in our own skin. So comfortable that it is easy to open up to others and share who we are. We are not trying to emulate others, there is no pretence, we are our genuine selves.

Having a strong self-awareness also gives us the ability to recognise the impact we have on those around us. Our emotional intelligence is increased and with that comes an awareness of others and how they are responding to our communication.

When a leader is authentic, honest and strongly aligned with their inner values, they are able to modify how they communicate to suit the sensibilities of those around them. Nothing is lost in their honest communication, they know how to moderate it so that it resonates with whoever they are dealing with. They have a deeper understanding of not only their own emotions but also the emotions of others.

When you are comfortable in your own skin it becomes easier to treat others in an open honest way. Your inner values are reflected in your behaviour; you are not so susceptible to outside influences. Integrity becomes natural to you, and you don’t feel the need to compromise your values even when under pressure.

logical conjunction

Living and working with integrity on a daily basis sends a strong message to your team about who they are dealing with and what they can expect. They know that you will be open, honest and fair in your dealings with them, they trust you.

Trust is soon followed by complete engagement and loyalty.

Authentic leadership is not all sweetness and light. Along with the honesty and integrity is the ability to get great results from those who work for you. Even when it requires negative feedback and doses of accountability. Effective communication helps an authentic leader to keep things real. They are aware of what is happening around them and who is performing well, and who is not. They show gratitude to those who are and they are comfortable having the tough conversations when necessary.

In a nutshell, Authentic Leadership comes down to integrity and communication.

An authentic leader is highly committed to open, honest communication with the team. They know what the vision is and they are happy to share it with each member of the team and let them how they can contribute to making it happen.

About the author



Alison Vidotto is a published author, professional speaker, CEO of Vidotto Group, founder and managing director of the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam (ACCV).

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