These last few months, a lot of my clients refer to authenticity as one of the main traits they are looking for in their leadership.
It is remarkable that in current times, where change is on the every day agenda and uncertainty is part of life, the desire for authentic leadership becomes so explicit. People look for leaders who are genuine, honest, courageous, resilient but most of all real.
That is quite a change from leadership in the 20th century where the leader was the one who commanded the troops to follow him over the hill to build his glory. But why has the leadership-style preached by Jack Welsh become outdated?
The nature of people in organisations has dramatically changed in the 21st century. People today are more knowledgeable about their jobs than their bosses are. They look for meaning and significance in their work and they are not willing to toil away just for someone else’s benefit.
Consequently, a 21st century leader needs to empower and inspire others to lead.
The only way you can truly inspire people is by being your own self. When people can relate to you as a fellow human being—rather than as someone with the power to cut your budget or outsource your job—you can build engagement and lift performance beyond anything ‘unreal’ leaders ever can. People will trust you and that will give them the courage to give it their all.
To be an authentic leader, you need to be aware of your strengths, your limitations and your emotions. The cliché image of the leader as some sort of superhero with no flaws has clearly changed and transferred into the leader as a true person who does not hide his or her mistakes or weaknesses out of fear looking weak.
Becoming an authentic leader takes guts and courage. We all have been thought to play though and to look strong at any given point in time. Sharing our limitations goes against our instinct of self-preservation.
So next time, when I ask you to share with me your true self, your strengths but also the mistakes that you have made in your career, remember this blog. I am not looking for criteria to rule you out, I am just checking whether you have what it takes to be a true authentic leader.
I look forward to hearing from you,
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