When a leader lacks authenticity, it is evident their influence on their followers is minimal or non-existent. They are unable to inspire others with who they are. They are often forced to show empathy in order to be accepted by their followers but cannot keep up for a long time. This is because, authenticity is not something you can create in a moment. It does not just happen.
An authentic leader is one who is true to him or herself and is fully aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
An authentic leader is able to achieve the following:
- Understand the humanness of his/her team
Your authentic self as a leader allows you to appreciate the flaws and strengths of others. You understand that your employees are not perfect and that perfection is inconsistent with human behavior. You are aware that your team members may be unhappy at times and also struggle with their own weaknesses just as you have with yours.
- Be open and connect with the team
One great value of an authentic leader is the ability to be open. Openness allows team members to be able to connect with the leader and helps to build trust. Some leaders pose as heroes and robots who have never faced challenges in their career journeys. They never share their success or failure. They prefer to be studied by their employees or team members as a mystery. Such leaders may be admired in the short term by their team. However, with time, they begin to lose the support of many.
- Learn on the job without losing himself/herself
It is easier for an authentic leader to admit mistakes and retract a bad decision. Their authentic nature allows them to accept when they are wrong and also apologize when their decisions negatively impact their team. As a result of this, they are able to learn from their mistakes, take feedback and move forward on the job.
- Inspire followers over in tough times
They may not be great at public speaking or have the best speeches like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Kwame Nkrumah but authentic leaders are leaders who are believable, trustworthy and relatable to their team. They don’t need to tell a story to convey a message all the time, and their authenticity tells the story which creates a lasting impression in the minds of their followers.
- Provide valuable and good-faith feedback
The feedback of an authentic leader is often taken in good faith, and with all seriousness. This is because their employees understand that their feedback is thoughtful and often devoid of any personal biases.