Employees and employers are recognizing the growing need for safe spaces at work. Leadership has long been considered integral to enabling a safe and productive workplace with high retention rates.
As it stands, to get the best results from current and potential employees, hiring and line managers have made mental health a top priority. According to a Deloitte survey, 80% of GenZ participants said that mental health support and policies were important in deciding whether or not to work for a potential employer. Financial concerns and work-life balance were also mentioned as major concerns for many of these respondents.
Reports have repeatedly highlighted how leaders must wear hats of authenticity in what they offer and how they treat their employees. And this is determined and demonstrated by aligning the organization’s values, purpose, and actions to deliver and create a workforce that produces unrivaled results.
Why Does Authentic Leadership Matter?
Authentic leadership is a new but rapidly spreading phenomenon in today’s world. According to the American academic Bill George, in order to be an authentic leader, a leader must lead with purpose, values, and integrity. Authentic leaders must be able to build long-lasting organizations, inspire employees to provide exceptional service, and generate long-term value for shareholders.
The author is a well-known proponent of how the character of a leader must be coached or prepared to lead better teams.
But why does authentic leadership even matter and help organizations of today?
The modern workplace does not adhere to traditional leadership theories based on reinforcement principles and other reward systems. With the emergence of startup culture, where the environment is quite liberal and vocal, the workforce demands flexibility to work in any and every capacity. However, because of complex structures or work models, not all organizations can provide a liberal work culture and must adhere to set principles.
To be an authentic leader in today’s changing world, leaders must have a desire to serve others. They must be motivated by passion, compassion, and empathy, in addition to being goal-oriented. Leading with a purpose and adhering to a set of values allows employees to see the same path to success as leadership. Having an authentic leader as a mentor benefits the organization in a variety of ways, including increased trust within teams and across the hierarchy, the development of strong relationships, and increased employee motivation.
Why Does the Alignment of Values, Purpose, and Actions Matter?
Achieving the above-described high standards of leadership is made possible by the alignment of values, purpose, and actions. According to Bill George, the dimensions of authentic leadership include Purpose, Values, Relationships, Self-Discipline, and Heart.
Having an aligned purpose and actions that support set values aids in the consistency of outcomes. An authentic leader must be a lone leader who does not follow a predetermined pattern simply because of leadership legacy within the organization. This authenticity and uniqueness create a genuine desire in the team to be inspired by actions and purpose. Apart from these benefits, having a purpose-driven action system aids in directional success with unparalleled clarity. This helps employees follow the leader without question because they have seen the results that the leader delivers, as promised.
All these unique characteristics are brought about by maintaining authentic and never-before-seen leadership.
What Do Authentic Leaders in the Workplace Look Like?
Authentic leaders can take many detours to success, but here are some examples of authentic leadership traits and what they can look like:
Contemporary and Adaptive
Bill George contends that a leader must change with the times to be effective in today’s cutthroat business environment. Authentic leaders must be adaptable and team players. There is no room for dictatorship here, and there is a heightened need to delegate as much as possible.
Contemporary authentic leaders are trustworthy and support their decisions and ideas to the best of their abilities. All authentic leaders can change their approach to situations based on the circumstances. Such nuances make leaders more authentic in the workplace.
Authentic leaders are aware of their own mistakes, shortcomings, and knowledge. This self-awareness assists them in learning daily and making informed decisions. Acceptance is the key to success when an authentic leadership style is adopted and pursued. Authenticity comes from being okay with being judged and appearing to be inexperienced or less knowledgeable in certain ambits.
These characteristics prove to be an excellent way to bond with the team and demonstrate to them that they are working with a human leader and not a machine. Being open to feedback is another critical aspect of developing authenticity in leadership. This mechanism is always the key to self-awareness and not being delusional about success or shortcomings.
Empathetic and Collaborative
Relationships are the key to success for any visionary leader. Leaders can only win with their team, so developing strong and meaningful relationships is an excellent way to get closer to being an authentic leader.
Empathy, as one of the dimensions of authentic leadership, can be a powerful tool for building long-term relationships. It is critical to demonstrate the worth of one’s work to others. This helps them perform to the best of their abilities because they see their role as an important piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle.
All in all, the best way to realize an authentic leadership style at work is to demonstrate a genuine interest in employees and clients.
Values and Purpose-Driven
All world-renowned leaders demonstrate strong foundational values that they do not abandon. This helps them appear as ethical and moral subjects of recognition. Every organization serves a unique purpose, and every authentic leader has unique values. However, no two entities can exist without a goal or set of values.
Besides, it’s noteworthy that trust is built on integrity, and integrity can take many forms. The core foundation of authentic leadership is preaching modesty and leading with values to achieve the ultimate goal.