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Your Development as an Authentic Leader

Source | LinkedIn : By Fiona Porter FCIPD

Over the last 15 years or so the views of what makes a good leader has changed somewhat. When I first set out as a leader in the 80’s the emphasis was on what you knew, your skills and knowledge, your title and the number of years of experience. Now I train people who have these attributes but still find it difficult to lead others.

What seems to be missing from these times is the ‘people skills’ how leaders relate to others, their relationships and emotional intelligence. People skills are considered as ‘pink and fluffy’ by many organisations, however there is an underlying sense that this is something that is important to the business but somewhat intangible. Given current levels of distrust in leaders, being someone who can develop authentic human connections with people, someone who is trusted and respected, someone who is a fully rounded person is increasingly important.

In 2003, Bill George’s book, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value, challenged a new generation to lead authentically. Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. They establish long-term, meaningful relationships and have the self-discipline to get results. They know who they are.

The majority of authors agree that authentic leadership goes far beyond being true to oneself (Ilies, Morgeson, & Nahrgang, 2005). Jensen and Luthans (2006), for instance, mention three additional characteristics that can be found in authentic leaders:

1.      They are motivated by personal convictions rather than attaining status or personal benefits

2.      They are originals rather than the copy of someone else

3.      The actions of authentic leaders are based on their personal values

These characteristics show that irrelevant of the leadership style they prefer, authentic leaders need to act in accordance with deep personal values in order to gain the trust and respect of others (B. J. Avolio, Gardner, Walumbwa, & May, 2004).

Being an authentic leader is being able to be yourself, knowing their authentic selves requires the courage and honesty to open up and examine their experiences. As they do so, leaders become more humane and willing to be vulnerable.

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