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The need for authentic leadership is more significant than ever. The global pandemic has extended workdays, taxed employees and their families, and brought new stressors to the business landscape. A year ago, in many parts of the United States, it would have been “COVID what?” Today, it’s a dominant factor shaping work and employee experience.
Successive research studies in talent development and management provide evidence that authentic leadership is highly predictive of employee job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and workplace happiness.
Human Resources professionals are taking four actions that develop authentic leadership and inspire success in the emerging and new ways we are working.
Inspire Others by Developing Your Talents
When we cultivate and develop our natural gifts, we learn to operate in our “element” and become effective in working with others. When we are in our element, we experience the convergence between what we’re good at doing and doing what we love. As we develop, authentic leaders take their talents to the broader pursuits of coaching, teaching, and mentoring others. An authentic leader’s skills express their distinctive choices and values. When colleagues perceive their managers as developing and happy people, individual and team performance increases.
"Authentic leaders promote psychologically safe environments where people are encouraged to succeed rather than to perform"
Sustain Progress on a Foundation of Values and Purpose
Authentic leaders act from strong ethical and moral foundations. Some describe the foundations as their “true north” or as integrity. In the same way that an inner compass guides individual leaders, values make a difference in all sizes and shapes of organizations. Values are selective, and executives choose and shape those values into team and organizational behaviors and practices.
As consumers, our experiences with brands are shaped by a brand’s values. At Wal-Mart, consumers expect the best prices and match their service expectations to the frugal values that Sam Walton instilled when growing his company. At Nordstrom’s, customers experience service tailored to the values of the brand’s founding family. To spark innovation and promote and sustain organizational growth, authentic leaders connect employees to their company’s values and purpose.
Create Inclusion, Connected-ness, and Belonging
People want to work for others who are real, or, in other words, genuine or authentic. Authentic leaders promote inclusion and equity, bringing optimism, hope, and resiliency to reduce fear and remove barriers to success. Authentic leaders promote psychologically safe environments where people are encouraged to succeed rather than to perform. Authentic leaders establish their legitimacy through the honest relationships they establish.
Do the Right Things
My mentor, the leadership-studies guru Warren Bennis, remarked that managers do things right and leaders do the right things. Bennis’s observation is as accurate today as it was 30 ago. Authentic leaders are positive people who possess a truthful self-concept and promote openness among others. Because they focus on what matters and makes a difference to customers and employees, authentic leaders generate enthusiastic support from their followers. A manager’s consistency in doing the right things improves individual and team performance.
Authentic leaders promote excellence, encouraging talented people to perform beyond their known expectations. By encouraging others’ success, authentic leaders build strong teams that are the envy of others because they outperform other teams second-to-none.
Don’t you want to join the movement to create prosperous organizations through authentic leadership? Design an approach and begin today.