AT TOP 10: AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP

AT TOP 10: AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP

This is the first in our series of blog posts called “AT Top 10.” Over the course of the year we’ll be posting more. Enjoy and stay tuned for the next…


The position of leader and/or manager requires approachability, humility and a desire to learn. These characteristics are the hallmarks of an authentic leader whose measure of success is the ability to get results by working through others and leveraging relationships that inspire and motivate. Knowing your team and allowing them to get to know the real you strengthens your relationships, allowing you to resolve problems, innovate and generally achieve greater results together.

Leaders view admitting mistakes, highlighting the strengths of others and modeling teachability as being at the core of authentic leadership. Follow these tips toward authentic leadership to produce a team and an agency that constantly strives for growth and improvement.

Tip 1: Make yourself approachable and accessible. Let others know you would like their input, ideas and thoughts whenever possible. Always thank them for their time, input and contributions.

Tip 2
: Own everything that goes on around you. Accept accountability when things go wrong and give away all the credit when things go right. Champion other people and their input and contributions – recognize them to the rest of the agency.

Tip 3: Ask questions of your co-workers and direct reports that challenge you. How can I be more supportive? Am I approachable? What can I do better to establish more open communication? Ask questions and listen to the answers and you will gain greater understanding and engagement from your team and co-workers.

Tip 4: Share you challenges, ideas, thoughts, etc. Discuss a challenge or issue you are struggling with. Express an ongoing frustration or talk about an achievement that has eluded you. Ask for input, suggestions, ideas and/or perspective. Always remember, you have much to learn from them as well.

Tip 5: Listen intensively. Approachable leaders listen more than they speak. As a leader, you don’t always have to fix things. Listening attentively is a key element of letting others speak and come up with solutions.

Tip 6: Be self-aware and genuine. Authentic leaders show their real selves. Don’t hide mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. Be who you say you are and have integrity beyond compare. Be intelligent and ethical with information and consistent with your actions. Give your people reason to trust you.

Tip 7: Be mission driven and results focused. Put the mission and the goals of the agency ahead of your own self-interest. Do your job in pursuit of results, not for power, money or ego.

Tip 8: Maintain a sense of humility. Humility authenticates a person’s humanity. The core of leader humility involves modeling to others how to grow. By humbly admitting mistakes and trying to learn, leaders legitimize their followers’ own growth journeys and will have higher performing teams and organizations.

Tip 9: Speak positively whenever possible. Talk about possibilities as opposed to what can’t be done. Share your knowledge, resources, learning etc. with others whenever you have the opportunity.

Tip 10: Lead with your heart not just your mind. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions or your vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to connect with employees. This doesn’t mean authentic leaders are “soft”. In fact, communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but do it with empathy.

Bonus Tip: Lead from Within. Leadership is getting the best out of your people. Make being authentic the governing trait of your leadership.