Six habits of authentic leaders

Do you strive to be a good leader? Then living an authentic life is vital

Advocate Thuli Madonsela recently tweeted: “The beauty of living authentically is that when your outer world does not make sense your inner being quietly assures you that all is well.”

We have all been around those extraordinary people who excel in their careers, but don’t make enemies along the way. They care about people, but manage to stretch them at the same time. These leaders are respected, engender trust and have enthusiastic followers. It’s easy to buy into who they are and what they are about. This is because they are authentic leaders.

In his book, Authentic Leadership (2003), author Bill George proposes that this leadership style displays a pattern of behaviours that resonates with a leader’s personality and core values. Furthermore, authenticity requires your actions to always be honest, ethical and practical. He says the five qualities of an authentic leader are: understanding your purpose, practising your values, leading with your heart, establishing connected relationships, and demonstrating self-discipline.

Executive Business Coach Iain Shippey says authenticity is the degree to which you are true to your own personality, spirit, or character despite external pressures. Shippey says in order to lead authentically, you need to be open to reflection, brave introspection and have patience. You should also strive to possess the following traits:

Demonstrate self-awareness

You need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and be comfortable with being a ‘work in progress’.  Be aware of how you are coming across and they don’t make excuses when you mess up.

Be curious about others

Really listen when someone speaks and strive not to judge.

Always be genuine

When people know you are genuine, they trust what you say. This leads people to feel safe, even when they are calling you out about something. Don’t be concerned about a hidden agenda, rather be yourself and be open to being vulnerable.

Lead with passion

Don’t just rely on your position or intellect. You need to express your passion in a compelling vision. When you truly believe in your vision, others will too.

Blaze new trails without being impulsive or reckless

When you need to make bold decisions and moves, ensure that you plan carefully and consider all the alternatives and factors involved. Prioritise organisational growth and employee empowerment so that everyone benefits from each win.

Have a moral compass

You need to have a strong ethical foundation. Practice what you preach and be ready to put yourself on the line in the pursuit of your goals. Be driven by your inner motor, not external triggers.