Just be yourself.
We’ve all heard this advice since childhood, and even as adults, it still rings true, particularly when we consider the lens of authentic leadership.
Authentic leadership has achieved a buzzworthy status in professional development in recent years. At its core, this leadership style encourages individuals to be genuine and true to who they are. It also promotes transparency and creating connections with employees and colleagues. The benefits of authentic leadership are significant, including:
- Personal confidence. Psychology Today reports that authenticity is correlated with self-esteem and coping skills.
- Trust. Leading in a genuine way also promotes trust in the individual as well as management in general.
- Employee satisfaction. One study showed that an employee’s perception of a leader’s genuine behavior was the strongest single predictor of work happiness.
- Workplace performance. Authentic leadership was also found to be positively related to job performance.
Building an environment where others feel comfortable – and encouraged – to be their true selves requires effort on the part of executives, managers and individual employees. Whether you are seeking to build authentic leaders across your organization, within your team or within yourself, these four tips can help set the tone:
1. Promote Self-Awareness
To be true to who you are, you need to get insights into your strengths as well as potential blind spots. Only by understanding where your natural preferences lie can you learn to lean into these gifts. To create a culture of authenticity, help yourself and others build self-awareness. Using assessments like the Emergenetics® Profile can help you understand who you inherently are.
2. Work Through Strengths to Address Challenges
One of the presentation slides that makes me laugh most in our Meeting of the Minds workshop is the one that reads: No Whining. The purpose of this slide is to explain that you can’t use your preferences as an excuse. Authentic leaders don’t avoid tasks or interactions because they don’t enjoy them, or because they are challenging. They understand where they may have blind spots and address these gaps by working through their strengths.
Let’s consider an example. As someone with Social and Conceptual Thinking preferences, I’m a socially-aware individual who is energized by the big picture and new ideas. I am not typically excited by tasks like digging through data. If I’m collaborating with someone with an Analytical preference, who has a strong interest in what the numbers say, I can lean into my Social preference to help me work more productively with this individual. While I may not love finding data points to bring to our meetings, I will use my interest in supporting and connecting with my teammate to flex and consider analytics as I prepare.
3. Appreciate Cognitive Diversity
If we want others to feel comfortable being themselves, then we need to establish an environment where cognitive diversity is valued. Employees need to know they will be appreciated for who they are and that the strengths they bring will be honored.
Consider how you can promote diversity of thought in your organization or team. Are you hosting any trainings that help staff open their minds to other ways of thinking or see the value in different approaches? One way that we work with organizations to build a greater appreciation for cognitive diversity is through our trainings. In the Meeting of the Minds as well as Power of WE Respecting Differences workshops, we discuss the strengths associated with every Attribute and show the positive impact of cognitive diversity to help individuals and teams recognize its importance.
4. Encourage Empathy
Empathy is the act of understanding, being aware of and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and perspectives of others. Empathy does not require you to agree with someone; it means that you are actively seeking to understand them and their viewpoint.
Encouraging empathy is critical to supporting authentic leadership. After all, if we only see through our own point of view, it will be challenging to encourage an employee or colleague who thinks and behaves differently from us to be their true selves.
For authentic leadership to flourish, it takes more than just personal effort. It requires building an environment where others are accepted and appreciated for being themselves. By opening your mind, considering your strengths and finding value in cognitive diversity, you can establish a culture where authenticity thrives.
Want to create a culture that is conducive to authentic leadership? Fill out the form below to connect with our team to learn how Emergenetics can help.