Why is authentic leadership important?
The power of authenticity.
This topic seems coming back to me, over and over again.
It‘s one of my biggest values, I am ALWAYS striving to be as authentic as I can. And I am also struggling with it. I have heard it before – that I am not authentic, that I am not showing up and that I am wearing a mask.
And maybe that’s why this topic is so important to me – because I have experienced times when I was unable to be me, I was not given permission to be me, and I was not feeling it was ok to be me.
And I am not talking about my private life here – I am talking about work.
I‘ve experienced times when I was told specifically that being me is not appropriate here, that playing to my strengths and using my gift of connecting with people and create trusted relationships, is „not what we do here“.
And this continued throughout my career. I learned that „being different“ is not a good thing, that others expect a certain behavior of a project manager, that they expect a certain attitude and mindset of a leader.
And so I played along.
Because sometimes it easier to play along that to find it, it‘s easier to be in the swarm than swimming against the stream.
And now… I regret it.
Being an employee and not being myself is one thing. But being a leader and not being authentic, that is a whole different story.
As a leader, you have a whole team watching you, looking to you for guidance and for answers, mirroring you and your behavior – what you sow, you harvest.
And is being like everyone else REALLY what you want to role-model to your team?
I know it‘s hard to be different, it‘s hard to NOT be strict as a leader, it‘s hard to NOT be an ESTJ (in MBTI terms) as a leader when everyone else around you is like that (or at least behaves like one) and you have no one else who is role-modeling something different.
And since we are human, we play along, because we want to fit in. We have a longing to belong – to be part of a tribe – evolution taught us it‘s better to be like that.
At the cost of our own values, our own vision, our own mission, our purpose and our beliefs. We live – and lead – from the outside in, from what others expect from us, from what others tell us and show us.
And inside we should live from the inside out, coming from our why, from our purpose, and from our mission.
It’s hard, yes and it’s damn attractive at the same time.
It‘s hard, yes, and it‘s damn attractive at the same time.
We all know and talk about those leaders who do. Those who go after their purpose and are being unapologetically themselves. We see humanity in there, we get encouraged to do and be the same – and we get permission to do so.
To break the circle of imitating others, of becoming „one“ with all our peers around is, it takes courage. Because we show who we really are.
And simply by doing that – you are leading. You are leading because you take ownership, you show up as yourself, and you inspire and empower others to do the same.
I want to encourage you to look at how you showed up at the office today and if you would be the exact same person at home.
I want to invite you to show a litte bit more of the human behind the leader.
And I want to remind you that that human being you are is worth showing.
Because we connect with humans.
We connect human to human, not employee to leader or salesman to client.
It‘s scary. But it‘s worth it.