Last month, we talked about the importance of having authentic connections with your employees. Showing authenticity is especially important when you’re hyper-focused on goals. Be authentic with those you lead, and you’ll have more motivated employees. To do this you need to master the competency of being “authentic” as an Every-Day Leader, which is the focus of this blog.
How do you know when you’re authentic? Being authentic can be described as acting true to your beliefs and honoring others in a mature, straightforward way. Part of being an Every-Day Leader is just this type of leadership. It makes a difference in the quality of your work relationships. Help people with this type of positive intent and they’ll feel how genuine and trustworthy you are. Forbes writer Kevin Kruse references the management tome by Bill George, Authentic Leadership, to define this essential competency.
Defining Authentic Every-Day Leadership
- Self-aware and genuine. Authentic leaders are aware of their strengths, limitations, and emotions. They show their real selves to their followers and don’t act one way in private and another in public. Be more self-aware. It helps you realize that being self-actualized is a journey.
- Mission driven and focused on results. Put the mission and goals of the organization ahead of your own self-interest to be more of an authentic leader. The authentic Every-Day Leaders do the job in pursuit of results, not for power, money or ego.
- Lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show their emotions, vulnerability, and connect with their employees. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact, communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s best if you also use a little empathy.
- Focus on the long-term. Be focused on long-term value, not just beating quarterly goals. Just as George did as CEO of Medtronic, authentic leaders realize that to nurture individuals and a company requires hard work and patience, to achieve dividends over time.
How to Use Authenticity Every-Day to Motivate Your Team
“Authentic leadership is inherently a developmental process,” says George. Are you ready to show your authentic side to your team? Just know the process involved will help get you to the next level. Follow these examples to use authenticity to motivate people to be their best:
- Try this approach if you have an employee that is struggling to deliver results on time:
“Hi Hank, thanks for your hard work on this big project. I’ve noticed that you’ve missed several deadlines recently that is causing delays for the team. I’m not going to beat you up, so relax. Let’s talk through the reasons for the delays and come up with solutions. I want to help you.”
Do you see how taking the sting out of constructive feedback will help Hank want to come up with solutions?
- Use this approach if you have a new employee that doesn’t seem to be assimilating well and you’ve been receiving complaints from team members:
“Sue, you mentioned concerns about Hank not meeting his deadlines on project Bulldog. As the project leader, have you taken time with him to ask how you can help? I find, especially with new people, they feel a lot of stress to perform and are afraid to ask for help. Perhaps you can do this with Hank and see how he responds.” Or, “Hank, I understand the methods we use here are very different from what you’re used to. Would you share some tactics that worked in your previous company to see if they might work here as well?”
Taking the time to come up with ways to help Hank fit in helps everyone win.
You Can FEEL When People are Authentic Every-Day Leaders
Authenticity is something people know when they see it and feel it. It brings a feeling of trust and confidence. Therefore, the practice of connecting authentically is an every-day habit. The first step is to know your strengths and your limitations. Every-Day leaders master the art of active listening and reading body language to respond authentically to what others need. Over time, you’ll become more self-aware of the impact you have on others. These are all important steps in preparing to lead authentically. Are you ready? Reach out and we’ll get started!