Authentic Leadership Development
When we think of a leader, our minds might turn to those in senior management positions, or even people as high up as politicians, or presidents. Leaders are often seen as people who are at the top of a hierarchy, whether that’s in our business or personal lives.
In reality, it’s key to realise that a leader can be anyone from a senior manager to a mum, an entrepreneur to a taxi driver.
However, just because someone is in a leadership role – elected, promoted or simply in life – does not mean that they are a natural leader or that they are being an authentic leader.
A title does not automatically denote experience or expertise. Indeed, the challenge is that some leaders – including managers, middle managers, and entrepreneurs - are not always equipped with the right emotional skills to carry out leadership roles, often hampered by their own experiences or personal goals. And that is where the key element for me as a trainer and coach comes in – authenticity.
Leaders are those who have a vision. Managers are often the ones working on how to implement the vision, getting the cogs working and make sure things are going in the right direction. But leaders are about the vision, about saying ‘let’s do it this way’ with the goals of 10 years’ time or even further ahead in the future, in mind.
Adding in the authentic
The word authentic is so important for me when it comes to leadership development as, without authenticity, leaders are prone to error and influenced by their own negative experiences which can range from bullying to lack of knowledge.
I often find I encounter a situation where someone is putting on a persona when they go to work. That’s how they need to be in that environment, they need that ‘façade’ to be the leader. That creates distortion and discomfort and can lead to stress because something may well be being suppressed on a different level.
For many people there is also an internal journey – they may be authentic in some areas of their leadership, but not so much in others, as they might be hampered by self-doubt or comparing themselves with others.
Leading from a place of vulnerability
Tapping into authenticity as a leader starts from a position of vulnerability. Embracing, understanding, processing and seeing vulnerability as a necessary pathway to growth. And that can be a huge block for many. Some in leadership roles might not feel they need to be more authentic or might feel that their being in the role is proof enough that they are capable of authentic leadership.
It’s about stripping back the mask and seeing the authentic side of yourself, working on your own authenticity and approach before applying it to your leadership style. That way you can thrive as a leader and help those around you thrive as well. Sometimes the people who are the best leaders are actually the ones who are the most vulnerable. They are the ones who are humble enough to say they want to learn. So, being an authentic leader means embracing one’s vulnerability and imperfections.
For many people, it’s the workplace itself which brings a huge stress factor, rather than their actual job or work.It might be about changing the working environment, not just the balance of power or who is in control of the workload or in authority.
Finding your own balance with authentic leadership development
The first step in helping someone become a more authentic leader is to ask them about the challenges they are experiencing. To ask them: “How do you see yourself?”
Exploring how they see the organisation that they work for, and what pain points they see gives you insight in how to help them make lasting changes. For me, it’s about understanding the individual, meeting them where they are and then seeing where we might decide to go.
Sometimes, when someone struggles with authentic leadership, it can be that they are dealing with something that’s happened in the past, even childhood trauma or bullying in the workplace.
There would be individual solutions, with one-on-one work, or for middle management it might be that the solution is more of a team-led set up. It’s working on the goal and thinking on my feet.
For some people, it’s difficult to consider change. Ego comes into play, the feelings of people thinking ‘I know better, I already know what to do.’ The very core to authentic leadership development is to acknowledge that we are all here together to activate and utilise all of our talents so we can come up with the best solution for everyone – employees, customers and clients. Sometimes, that might ‘hijack’ the growth of the company, because a CEO might have that ‘I know best’ perspective, which can end up costing a company a lot.
For a facilitator such as myself, coming into a company as a neutral person, means I can ask: “What do you feel is the real problem?”. That is why I do not work with a set script when it comes to training in authentic leadership development. Each person is truly individual, and the work I would do with someone to help them move towards authentic leadership would be holistic and tailored to them specifically.
How can I help you with your authentic leadership development?
Essentially, the core of authentic leadership development is about growing as a human being, in order to be a leader. I am on a mission to extend authentic leadership through all the layers of a company, organisation or even family. It’s about the relationship with yourself as well as those who you lead. I am interested in spreading the message of empowerment as much as I can.
If you are feeling inspired and this strikes a chord for you, please do get in touch to discuss how my training can help you. Authentic leadership development is something that can embrace and include top managers, and executives, or be inclusive right down to people who are working in a more service-led role or even working in their own business or towards creating their own business. It could even be a parent who wants to be a leader and strives to be a better human being.
This may be familiar to you as someone who is feeling that they are not being lead in an authentic way by their manager, company boss or someone in their life. If that’s you, and you wish to explore that further, please do get in touch.