Authenticity: 7 Keys for Leadership Edge

Recent insights and commentary in the leadership space appears to be centred on the concept of authenticity. Why is this concept getting increasing emphasis for leadership, and does it really matter? Well its pretty clear.

I was fortunate to recently attend a short leadership seminar by Harold Hillman, PhD. Harold believes that as a leader in the current business environment where change is happening at mach speed, leading change is your day job.

In the modern business environment it is no longer about trying to manage change in a controlled process orientated way, but more around the leader providing context, communication and connection – and not hiding behind the process. Recognising that that if you leave people in the ‘haze or fog of change’ or in a state of flux, they will fill the void with their assumption and inference. It requires the leader to be agile, vulnerable, connected and authentic – and there is that word ‘authentic’ again.

Harold’s research into authentic leadership recognised that authenticity is about understanding who you are and what you stand for, that gives you an ability to bring perspective with edge and conviction. Its about being a whole-hearted leader or compelling leader. Have you ever experienced a halfhearted leader – what was that like for you?

If we understand that the best leaders are inspiring and compelling through their passion and values, being grounded and confident, building trust and communicating and influencing change – then authenticity is key because leadership starts with you – the real you. Harold’s research identified that authenticity has seven components, these are briefly:

1.      Positivity: a leader needs to be able to create positivity and optimism, and push through adversity. Do you fuel people up enough?

2.      Real: genuine, connecting, using real language. Do people need to use a decoder when you connect?

3.      Edge: Mental and physical swagger, comfortable with your point of difference. Do people see or hear edge?

4.      Vulnerability: not needing to be in control, drop the ego or status to get the best outcome. Are you openly on your own learning curve?

5.      Energy: creating and enabling energy in your people. Do you unleash their energy by enabling others and getting out of the way?

6.      Integrity: your words and actions match. You are ‘one person’. What do your actions say?

7.      Connections: spark people together to an outcome, inspire the collective dream. Do you connect people to the vision and direction and each other?

The key to this is having the EQ and self-awareness to understand how you influence and impact people and self-regulate by turning ‘the volume up and down’ as required – while still being you. How authentic and compelling is your leadership?

Greg is a consultant at Advisory.Works