Written by
Chris Underwood

Published
13 Jan 2016

What makes an authentic leader?

13 Jan 2016 • by Chris Underwood

To me, the characteristics of authentic leadership include purpose, values, the ability to build a trust-based relationships and passion. 

Does being an authentic leader really matter? 

I believe so, because authenticity and passion are the best ways to cascade your messages and business vision ­– and bring the organisation with you along the path you have chosen. With authentic leadership, companies can go much further because everyone is working towards the same end; they understand the strategy, and are united in support of the cause.

Key ways to develop authenticity:

Be truthful. Both to yourself and your organisation. That doesn’t mean you can be hurtful, but truthfulness is about being clear and honest.

Lead from the heart. People are at the heart of every business, care about them and help them grow and develop. 

Be brave. Choose to do the right thing, not the easy thing. Particularly when you are facing challenges, having the authenticity to do the right thing ultimately earns respect. 

Foster good relationships in the workplace. Staff want to create good connections and lasting relationships from work. Share successes and give credit where it is due.

Think long-term. Try not to worry about temporary setbacks or blips. Focus on the horizon and keep aiming for the end goal.

Know yourself. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, but self-knowledge and awareness enables you to understand where the gaps lie for you and your team and what you need to do in order to compensate for them.

Take time to dream. Authentic leaders are the ones who come up with new possibilities and visions.

Strive for excellence, not perfection. Perfection is impossible, but excellence is always possible, and can always be improved on.

Be yourself. Strength of character says more about you than words can, and the moment you are not yourself, you start to lose authenticity.

To me, the characteristics of authentic leadership include purpose, values, the ability to build a trust-based relationships and passion.