The 4 Skills for Becoming an Authentic Leader

Maybe it is all the political wrangling that is going on in Washington these days, or maybe it is just the recent interactions I have had with executive types in the workplace, but I can’t help but notice a lack of “Authenticity” among leaders. Of course, noticing this deficiency in others is easy; it is recognizing it in ourselves that’s the problem.

What is an Authentic Leader?

One of my favorite definitions of authenticity was offered by author and speaker, Dr. Lance Secretan when he said, “Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” The alignment he mentions is about who I really am compared to what I present to others. Am I the same person in both cases?

The 4 Skills of Authenticity

Dr. Phil says that, “Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you're supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.”

This “giving yourself permission” is more about embracing your authentic self than it is about developing some new character quality.  Here are four steps you can take to set a strategy for finding your authentic self:

1.     Be Values Driven – Do you have a clear vision of what you stand for and to whom you are accountable? In today’s world it is easy to develop circumstantial values where the personal values you display are driven by the circumstances you find yourself. Authentic people know who they are and exhibit the same values in every situation.

Review a list of core values and select 3-5 that you live your life by. You can find a list HERE.

2.     Be Self-aware – Do your words match your actions? Does your audio line up with your video? Become aware of how your thoughts, words and actions line up in every situation you face and make note of what changes need to occur for you to be in total alignment.

3.     Be Respected versus Liked – do your behaviors choices occur because you are trying to please others or please yourself. Are you trying to be liked or be respected? Shakespeare said it best, “To thine own self be true”.

4.     Be Real – Being real means avoiding the strong desire to embellish or enhance your abilities and accomplishments in order to be accepted or liked. By saying, “I don’t know the answer.” opens the door for others to contribute and allows you to remain true to who you are.

There is a quiet humility surrounding the people that you would consider “authentic”. They are real and they are comfortable with who they are and what they stand for.

Question: What are the attributes that you admire in authentic people?