authentic leader

Key Insights:

  • Authenticity is vital for effective leadership in today’s world.
  • Authenticity is more difficult to develop and maintain than it has ever been.
  • There are actions individuals can take to tap into their true selves, which helps them lead much more effectively.

What does it mean to be an effective leader?

Misinformation, misconceptions and myths about leadership are wildly persistent in our world, which makes it difficult to remain grounded and focused. And the list of responsibilities managers and executives must deal with continues to grow. Leadership may be more difficult – and potentially confusing – today than it has ever been. That is why I always come back to the importance of authenticity.

Being a genuine leader means remaining grounded in your values, beliefs and approaches, regardless of what the latest, untested conventional wisdom might say. These types of leaders never leave their people guessing about where they stand or what they think is right. They have a way of rising above the fray and providing perspective that their team members value. And they know they can always trust their internal compasses to guide them.

Your ability to lead effectively will depend upon your authenticity perhaps more than any other factor.

So, what can you do to make sure you are the most genuine you can be?

I have some tips!

What Is Authenticity?

Before I share my advice, I think it will be useful to define what it means to be an authentic leader.

To me, authenticity is the quality of being able to bring your whole self to any interaction. There is no hiding or concealing certain qualities because of what someone else might think or how they may react. Rather, people who act with authenticity allow themselves to be seen and heard fully, and they match their actions with their values, intentions and beliefs.

When leaders are true to themselves, their people see it clearly, which supports greater levels of engagement and productivity. And it provides a solid model of what leadership within the organization should look like, which is helpful for those employees who may be interested in rising into management and executive roles themselves.

Authenticity is a critically important quality, and it’s getting harder and harder to act upon in our fast-paced world. Here’s what you can do to ensure that you lead in a way that is true to who you are.

Ask Yourself – Who Am I Doing This For?

As a leader, you are responsible for making numerous decisions every single day, including how you present yourself and engage with others. Given the sheer number of choices to be made, it is easy to understand why some people choose to operate on auto-pilot or make decisions based on the perceived whims of others.

I suggest making a habit out of asking yourself who you’re doing things for. Are you remaining silent on an issue because you are afraid that what you have to say may rub someone the wrong way? Are you choosing a course of action based on how well-liked it may make you? If so, you are not leading with authenticity.

Check in with yourself as you make decisions. If your choices are aligned with someone else’s values, beliefs and intentions, you aren’t being genuine. If, however, you are always connecting with your true self as you make decisions, you are on the right track.

Let Go of What Doesn’t Work Anymore

Like many leaders, you have probably developed a range of habits that inform your actions. Some of these habits may have become so ingrained that you don’t even think about them anymore. I bet that you may even be holding on to a number of behaviors that come from a time before you fully developed your values and beliefs.

If you are engaging in activities that go against your professed principles, beliefs and intentions, it’s time for some self-examination and self-awareness. Be present for your actions and ask yourself if they are coming from a place of habitual repetition, or if they are truly aligned with your values.

The most effective leaders are constantly evaluating themselves and comparing their actions with their most deeply held beliefs, which, in turn, drives engagement upward. People love it when their managers and executives are unafraid to adapt and become more authentic!

Give Yourself What You Need

Becoming your true self as a leader is not a matter of flipping a switch or pressing a button. It is something that takes time, energy and effort. So I urge you to be patient and give yourself the time and space you actually require to transform.

I also suggest learning how to be forgiving with yourself. You are probably going to make mistakes and fall back into patterns that no longer serve you or your organization. That’s okay. All you can do is notice, evaluate how you can improve, dust yourself off and keep trying.

Once you have identified your values and beliefs, you can continue to strive toward the standards you have determined for yourself. You may have difficulty measuring up to them, and over time, the process will only become easier.

Give yourself space to rest and reflect so you can check in with yourself and your principles. Doing so will re-energize you. Then you can show that authentic self off proudly to the world!

Relying on Another Perspective

One of the keys to becoming a more genuine leader is to develop your self-awareness, which can be hard for anyone to do on their own. The process can be made much simpler by bringing other perspectives into the picture.

One way to begin building self-awareness is through assessments like the Emergenetics® Profile, which empowers you with insights into your preferred ways of thinking and behaving. This knowledge can help you understand your potential, discover what really makes you tick and unlock the innate strengths that give you energy.

As you build on these insights, you may also consider enlisting the help of a leadership coach or a mentor to help you hone in on the aspects of yourself that make you authentic and unique. Coaching can also make it easier for you to explore those areas of yourself that you might otherwise be afraid to visit.

If you’re interested in discovering your innate strengths and developing authentic leaders in your organization, fill out the form below to connect with the Emergenetics team or send me an email at to learn more.

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