Do you believe that you need to play the part when leading your team? Do you think that you have to act a certain way to impress your workforce? If so, you may be missing the point.
Study after study shows that workers respond most to those leaders that are authentic. They develop a better sense of trust, they engage better and they have higher job satisfaction.
The 5 elements of being authentic
So what does it mean to be authentic?
1. Self-discipline – this links into my core belief in emotional intelligence. You have to understand your strengths and weaknesses, understand how you are perceived by others. These are attributes that you can develop and my leadership training focusses on developing self-awareness. But it isn’t enough to be self-aware, you have to manage your behaviour, your team expect you to exhibit self-discipline. If you are prone to losing your temper, for instance, find ways to control your temper, or find ways to lose it in private.
2. Lead with your heart – of course, as a leader, you have to be aware of targets, measures and plans, but being a leader isn’t just about thinking, it is about feeling. Showing a passion for what you do will win you more trust that just focussing on the technicalities of the role. We expect our leaders to show emption, to show heart, we want to know that the wins and losses mean something to them.
3. Values – your team will want to know what your values are and that you are true to your values. Leaders who claim a set of lofty values but who fail to live up to them will quickly lose the support of their staff. They will no longer trust that those values are real and that lack of trust leads to a lack of engagement.
4. Purpose – people really engage with leaders who are clearly focussed on the long term purpose of the organisation. Where leaders demonstrate that they are focussed on their own agenda rather than that of the organisation will find it very difficult to develop the trust required to create high performing teams.
5. Relationships – good leaders build strong relationships with their team. They care about the dreams and aspirations of their staff and want to be part of their journey. This links back to being genuine. It is not an act, it is a real interest in those around them.
“To thy own self be true”
The key to the above five elements, is that the leader is genuine. Nothing is an act, they are the same person in the workplace that they are outside of it. Humans are able to pick up on the tiniest hint or gesture, we can spot those small signs that someone is trying to be something they are not. We do spot people who are fake more often than not.
So my advice to any leader is be confident in yourself. Trust your own feelings and be natural and genuine … that will allow people to develop trust in you and from trust grows engagement and job satisfaction.