You won’t get the most out of your team by being a dictator but by instead becoming an authentic leader – and working smarter not harder.
As a leader you should have a good idea of what you want to achieve in your role, but have you taken the time to think about the type of leader that you want to be in getting there?
There are many different attributes that make a good leader. It’s important that you keep a flexible approach in your leadership style, but you should remember that you cannot be all things to all people.
There will be times you need to be more transactional, but there will also be times where you’ll need to adapt to be more visionary and to set a course for people to follow. The most important thing throughout your leadership journey is that no matter what style you use at any point, you should keep your personality intact while leading. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not: be authentic.
Authentic leaders know their own values, beliefs and strengths. Regardless of the situation, an authentic leader will stick to these and communicate them with their team members. This builds trust, helping you to nurture relationships and to inspire people.
Here are seven simple ways to increase your authenticity in the eyes of your team.
1. Open up
Share details about your hobbies or interests outside of work to help people understand more about you as an individual. Show them you’re human. Be approachable and open to conversations with your team; and perhaps host ‘open office’ hours to enable colleagues to speak to you at specified times.
2. Be yourself
Authentic leaders are originals, not copies. They stick to their values, play to their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. You can pick up ideas and inspiration from the likes of Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, but you’re unique and you have to find your own style.
3. Transparent Communication
How effectively do you convey information? Do you help your team understand the bigger picture? Do you help them understand the reasons behind the change? Authentic leaders understand that they can’t know everything and appreciate that it’s important to listen to ideas and feedback. They encourage opposing views and alternate perspectives while ensuring the team gels together as a whole.
4. Admit Mistakes
Let’s face it – nobody’s perfect and, like everyone else on the planet, you’ll make mistakes. The key is to recognise your mistakes, to share them and to ask for help with solving issues – and, perhaps most importantly of all, to learn from them. It can be tempting to cover things up when they go wrong – but doing so means that your team is doomed to repeat the mistake.
Instead, being honest will encourage your team to recognise you as an authentic individual and to trust you. This also creates a culture where it’s safe to put your head above the parapet, to admit mistakes and to take smart risks.
5. Admit Weaknesses and Praise Success
What’s even scarier for some individuals is the fact that they might not be the best at everything. While there are superhero CEOs who claim to be able to do every job in the company, it’s not the norm. Instead, a great manager should endeavour to hire people who are smarter than they are. Recognise the individual strengths of your team members and when they succeed, ensure that they get recognition for their work.
6. Be Fair
As a team leader, it’s essential that you’re impartial. You should of course reward successes and seek to establish exactly why failures occur. However, you should also ensure that you act consistently and that you take all relevant factors into consideration. Nothing breaks down trust faster than a boss who is seen to play favourites with the team.
7. Model Behaviours
Authentic leaders know that in order to inspire others they need to be professional at all times, to keep their promises and deliver on them. As a leader, do you ALWAYS make decisions that are principled and honourable? Are you ever tempted to take a shortcut? Remember that your decisions can permanently change how people see you.