Authentic leaders are in demand today. Employees, colleagues, and business partners want to work for/with leaders who are real. People are tired of rhetoric and corporate speak – they want leaders who are genuine, honest, and engaging.
“In today’s culture, where so much emphasis is placed on the superficial, people crave authenticity. Employees today are hungry for real what-you-see-is-what-you-get leadership. The most inspiring and influential leaders therefore don’t lead because of what they do (though they do plenty), but because of who they are. Too often leaders and those who aspire to be, forget that,” says Margie Warrell, Forbes.
What Is Authentic Leadership?
Authentic leaders are real people. You can have real conversations with them, they are genuine, and every interaction with them is on a real, personal level.
Bill George, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and authority figure on the subject of authentic leadership, defines the concept in the following way:
“People of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations … who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their core values who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all their stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society.”
George, in a recent Huffington Post article, adds that authentic leaders have 5 key qualities in common:
- Understanding their purpose
- Practicing solid values
- Leading with heart
- Establishing connected relationships
- Demonstrating self-discipline
Using Authentic Leadership to Assess and Recruit Leaders
These 5 qualities are the guiding principles for organizations that are examining their leadership, recruiting new leaders, or considering making a change at the leadership level.
Consider the following when assessing your organization’s leadership or recruiting:
- Focus on character over competence – authentic leadership is built on character
- Look for real and genuine individuals
- Look for leaders who are never satisfied and are always growing personally and professionally
- Look for leaders who are sensitive to the needs of the organization and others
- Authentic leaders don’t pretend to be perfect. They own their mistakes and learn from them
- Look for leaders who have emotional intelligence, can keep their emotions in check and are not afraid to ask for help when they need it.
Focus your efforts on recruiting real people, and you’ll be able to make your organizational culture and leadership authentic.
“If you want to be an authentic leader and have a meaningful life, you need to do the difficult inner work to develop yourself, have a strong moral compass based on your beliefs and values, and work on problems that matter to you. When you look back on your life, it may not be perfect, but it will be authentically yours,” says George.