When you’re at work, do you feel like you’re being your true self? Many people feel as if they’re ‘faking it ‘til they make it’ or putting on a façade in order to gain approval or meet expectations.
If we only ever present our ‘false self’ to the world, then any fear of criticism or rejection can be swept aside and our authentic, vulnerable self is protected from judgement by others.
Being authentic is something that is increasingly spoken about in the context of leadership. Authenticity is what you feel when you can be your true self at work, and when your behaviour matches your intentions. Research has found that feeling authentic in the workplace leads to better performance, higher levels of wellbeing and better engagement within your role.
Being inauthentic in your role, no matter what it is, can lead to Imposter Syndrome – the feeling that you are a fraud and that it’s only a matter of time before you’re exposed for not being able to do the job in hand.
Imposter Syndrome can be a common feeling when you first start out in a role, but as your confidence builds and your efforts are successful, these feelings subside. However, it can be harder for these feelings to be addressed for leaders who do not act in line with their authentic selves. This is due to the fact that if you’re acting in a way that isn’t authentically you, you might feel that any praise or success you receive that is down to the persona you’ve built up rather than your true self.
A leader can refine their ability to lead authentically by:
- Developing Self-Awareness
The most fundamental factor to being authentic is developing your self-awareness. By understanding your strengths and weaknesses, you can play to these to be the best you possibly can within your role. The most effective way to do this is through listening to feedback or undertaking psychometric testing – understand what motivates you, what values are important to you, and what makes your character unique.
Brenda Booth, a professor of Management, once said: “The cornerstone of authenticity is self-awareness. It is about being comfortable in your own skin so you can lead the organisation in a way where you do not feel ethically compromised.”
Rather than being compelled to be characteristically outgoing and make bold speeches to the masses, if you’re more of an introvert, make that work for you – connect with employees one-on-one or in smaller groups. Add that personal touch to your leadership style and use your personality to your advantage.
- Identifying a Role-Model
If you’re struggling with your authenticity, find someone within the company who behaves in line with their true self. You can assess how they react to certain situations and incorporate this into your own leadership style.
You could also identify a mentor within the business – someone who you are completely comfortable with and who you can be your authentic self around. Compare how you behave around them versus the times when you feel you’re being inauthentic. It will help you to understand ways that you can be truer to yourself.
- Forming a Connection
Regardless of whether you’re speaking to a large crowd of people or speaking to an individual, it’s important that you’re able to form a connection. Ensure that your actions match your words and that you’re not putting a ‘spin’ on things.
Take time to find out what makes people tick and ensure that you match your leadership style to their personality and behaviour preferences.
- Empowering Those Around Them
Leaders are able to create a culture of trust and loyalty within their team. By having your team on your side, you’ll be able to feel more comfortable with being your authentic self. On top of this, your team members will be inspired to step up and take on greater and greater challenges with the support of their leader. This culture will allow the organisation to retain top talent, therefore allowing authentic leaders to produce sustainable results for their team and organisation as a whole.
One of the main things about the practice of leadership is that there’s no one model that will work for everyone – each leader has to figure out their own approach and what works for one leader won’t necessarily work for another. In a similar vein, just because something worked for you last week, doesn’t mean that it’ll work this week or in a month’s time. Leadership is something that has to continually develop as challenges and the business evolves.
For more information on the bespoke leadership programmes we deliver, get in touch today: 01437 721879.