AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP

I recently wrote quite an emotional post on Facebook, which collected lots of comments from many of my friends and acquaintances. This post was about my personal journey of completing master's degree in social psychology, about challenging two years of combining work and study and my personal learnings. I noticed that being personal, being honest, being open not only made me closer to others, but also brought a lot of support and insights to myself.

Sometimes, especially, when in managerial roles, we become too preoccupied with ourselves and how we are viewed by others. We try hardly to fit in, strive to keep the 'face' in front of others and even pretend to be "someone else". However is this a productive behaviour?

Research suggests that this is counter-productive and indicates, that most benefits for the individuals and businesses are realised by leaders who are genuine and authentic.

So, what does being an authentic leader mean? Based on Enterpreneur.com article authentic leaders practice self-awareness and consistency with their values, which allows them to practice what they preach, seek dissonant values and unvarnished truth and understand the reality (rather than being subjective in their judgements). Your authentic leadership brand starts with your core values and is visible to others through your behaviours.

According to Rob Coffee and Gareth Jones article on authentic leadership (attached), self-knowledge is never complete, however effective leaders know enough and show enough to maximise their impact.

You can have role models, however mimicking their behaviours would most probably not work for you – "authentic leaders are not imitations".

An authentic sense of self, Coffee and Jones say, arises from…

Firstly, being comfortable with one's own background and origins – be it family, class, gender, ethnicity, religion or geography.

Secondly, being at ease with mobility – geographical, hierarchical or between organisations. High levels of social mobility can lead to symptoms of rootlessness and alienation. Effective leaders can adapt, however keeping their authenticity.

These authors also offer a number of practical suggestions on how to develop these critical capabilities:

1. Seek out new experiences and new contexts. Leading in a new context, for example, can help you formulate your authentic leadership brand.

2. Avoid comfort zones and routines. Developing self-knowledge requires active experimentation.

3. Seek honest feedback. Best feedback comes from honest colleagues and, also, family and friends

4. Explore your biography. Come to terms with the events that made you who you are

5. Return to roots. Spend time with people who know you without knowing your organisational position.

6. Create a 'third place'. We need a place away from family and work – somewhere where you'll be free from obligations and status, where you can think and develop sense of self.



I would add one more suggestion here – explore your values. What do you stand for? What are the principles you look to? Ask others if your values are visible to them? What are behaviours that would communicate your authentic leadership?