Authentic Leadership: What It Is and Why It’s Important
In every era, in every industry, strong leaders have brought their companies, armies and nations into positions of power and profit. Unfortunately, the failures and lack of ethics in the corporate governance of the early 2000s, followed by the financial crisis of the late 2000s, led to a lack of faith in business and financial leaders.
Fortunately, the events of the previous decade paved the way for a new kind of leader; one whose direction is fueled by passion for something more than just a healthy bottom line. While leaders in any industry still must pilot their organizations to meet financial goals, authentic leadership also draws on a greater sense of purpose and responsibility.
Leading From Within
A generation ago, strong leadership seemed to come from a place of ïfake it ïtil you make itï. If you wore the right suit, drove the right car and rubbed shoulders with the right people, you were halfway there. Books and seminars promised to help you define your leadership style or, even more dubiously, to learn to lead just like one company’s top CEO or another. In an attempt to become what they thought a leader should be, many managers and CEOs simply mimicked the leadership of others and never discovered or fulfilled their true potential.
Authentic leadership is not a matter of changing yourself to fit some predetermined view of what a leader should be, but of looking within to become the leader you were meant to be. A true leader is not simply a mercenary who auctions of his charisma and expertise to the highest bidder. Instead, a leader inspires others with her genuine passion for the larger goals of the organization.
Finding Your Purpose
At its root, authentic leadership comes from a place of really knowing yourself, embracing your story and making decisions that are true to your own core values. Leaders who are interested only in increasing their team’s sales performance or their company’s stock market value have no north star to guide their business and instead may founder on the seas of fluctuating markets and misguided innovation. In addition, the rewards of meeting a goal that is purely financial are often hollow and devoid of personal meaning.
Identifying the core values that will guide your life requires introspection and a willingness to embrace all of the experiences, challenges, triumphs and failures that have made you the person you are.
-Write down your story and tell it to others.
-Reframe negative aspects to highlight how they contributed to your growth.
-Identify when you have felt the most passionate, the most enthusiastic and the most fulfilled.
Often, as you revisit the past you’ll find that the most difficult periods were also the most defining. In some cases, you may realize that the path you are on is not one you are truly passionate about. While moving to a new job or industry may be frightening, in the end you’ll find that you will be more successful in a role where you can display authentic leadership and be true to your own internal values than you would have been pursuing success that has no personal significance.
Take Bold Risks
As you come to embrace both the triumphs and failures of your past, you’ll better understand the nature of failure and it will have little hold on your future. Leaders who focus on external measures of success often fear failure and hesitate to take bold action because they don’t want to appear weak. However, one of the greatest predictors of success is not IQ, but grit, the ability to pursue challenges despite setbacks. When your leadership is grounded in core values that you truly care about, you’ll be more able to weather the storms of failure and more prepared to incorporate the lessons learned as you push forward.
Attempting to become a carbon copy of somebody else is counterproductive to authentic leadership. However, as you identify your own purpose, you should seek out others whom you admire and build relationships with those who inspire you. Choose mentors who are interested in helping you to find your own way, and not in simply passing on their own. In the same way, you’ll be most effective as a mentor to others by nudging them to find their own passion and purpose. Strong leaders build strong teams by encouraging each person to cultivate their own gifts and vision, and by listening to each person’s valuable perspective.
By approaching your career with an understanding of your most deeply held values, you will be prepared to exhibit authentic leadership that fosters success for you and your organization. For more ways to improve your business and inspire your employees, check out the tools and articles here at Mighty Recruiter.