Authentic Leadership in 4 Easy Steps

We all hope that each one of our actions is a reflection of our true self, but are they? My work connects me with some of the most dynamic leadership teams in the world, and I have to say that one of the most common dilemmas I see is the issue of real authenticity. Often times, leaders will struggle to be their true self while still adhering to their role or “persona” within their company. If you find yourself changing personalities depending on the scenario or the people you’re talking to, then you may be “guilty.” You may be setting boundaries or creating a feeling of duplicity and not even know you’re doing it.

I know that leaders don’t try to do this on purpose; understanding where this balance issue comes from is key. It could come from fear of displaying a weakness (a weakness that may not even be real) or losing respect as an authority figure. As workplace culture and diversity continues to be a prominent talk topic, leaders may feel an intense pressure to behave and respond a certain way. For example, if a leader has a unique perspective on something, they may not feel comfortable expressing since it doesn’t line up with what’s widely accepted as the norm. If you experience this dilemma, whether you’re in a leadership role or not, try these four tips to help you find your authenticity:

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  1. Be real (and realistic). I think it’s unrealistic to aim for total transparency here. Work on acknowledging when you’re not being authentic and learn from every experience. Make sure you’re able to pin point why you acted inauthentic, and then next time a scenario comes up, you can be better prepared.
  2. Practice with friends. Find someone that you’re already comfortable “being the real you” around, and compare your interactions with them to your interactions with people that you have authenticity issues with. Find out what makes these interactions different so you can bridge the great divide.
  3. Encourage others. Make sure your team knows that you’ve created a haven that encourages unique opinions and voices, and demonstrate that you fully embrace this idea yourself.
  4. Give everything a positive spin. Often times you’ll have to formulate an immediate response to a situation, so don’t let frustration get the best of you. Eliminate any irritation in your voice when you provide feedback to someone, and remember to circle back with the individual(s) so they know you genuinely care.

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Now I ask you to imagine everyone on your team (including you) opening up and having an authentic connection that’s positive and productive for the company. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I’ve seen some beautiful breakthroughs while leading Drum Cafe interactive teambuilding events— something really powerful happens when people let go and are welcome to be their true self!
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