by Lisa Nixon
There’s leadership and then there’s authentic leadership. In theory, there may not be much to set them apart, but in practice there is a world of difference.
As those of us in business continue to face challenging times testing our relationships with clients, suppliers and our staff, conversations about leadership and culture are as valuable as those about productivity and cost efficiency.The concept of authentic leadership has been around since Greco-Roman times and has been re-popularised in contemporary management theory.
In an article on forbes.com, contributor Kevin Kruse outlines the four common traits of authentic leaders:
- Firstly, Kruse suggests authentic leaders are “self-aware and genuine”. They know their strengths and weaknesses and yet are still prepared to reveal their true selves. Authentic leaders show that ‘what you see is what you get’; the same at home as at work.
- Secondly, an authentic leader has their head in the game, first and foremost. Kruse says they are “mission driven and focussed on results”. There’s no self-interest here. It’s all about the task, what needs to be done and not about “power or money or ego”.
- The third trait of an authentic leader is heart. Authentic leaders are real people. They succeed. They fail. They are human. Yet Kruse says this does not mean that authentic leaders are “soft”. He says, “Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds.” They communicate directly but with empathy and concern for people.
- Finally, authentic leaders have an eye on the BIG prize. The course is set for the long term. It’s one thing to hold the team together to reach a short term goal but it’s quite another to build a company which is sustainable and successful. Again, Kruse says, “As Bezos has done for years at Amazon, (authentic) leaders realise that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.”
So, as we search for ways to achieve long term business sustainability in a new-look economic climate, consider what authentic leadership could do for your corporate culture.