Being a competent manager or having a senior position does not automatically make a leader. A leader connects with those they seek to lead. They inspire, encourage and empower their team.
Whilst there is certainly an overlap in skills needed for a senior manager and leader, it can be considered that true leaders are successful due to their characteristics, not just their skills. Authentic leadership is about the ‘being’, not the ‘doing’. Authentic Leadership is based on a strong foundation of trust in those they seek to lead. Trust will result in dedication, higher performance levels and a willingness to action what is needed: you cannot lead a team which does not trust you implicitly.
Leadership style has been the focus of recent political news, thanks to the well-publicised actions of Trump, May, Corbyn, Farron, Sturgeon et al. Their decision-making processes, implementation of change and how they lead their parties and countries, has highlighted the need not only to have a strong leader but to have authentic leadership.
So if you are looking for authenticity in leadership to take your organisation forward, we would suggest that a good place to start is to look for the following characteristics:
Vision and Values – leaders have a vision, share it often and their actions and values are consistent with that vision and the companies values. If the leaders don’t have a vision and their behaviour isn’t consistent with the company’s values, how can they expect anyone else to follow?
Flexibility – at times, a leader may need to coach and empower, at other times they may need to go against the view of the majority and make difficult decisions. Authentic leadership demands the ability to adopt different styles to match the situation and needs at the time.
Growth – a leader will acknowledge that they need to continue to learn, develop and evolve as they learn from their experiences. They acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them. Growth in their skill set and approach will allow them to stay in a strong leadership position.
Competence – leaders don’t ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves and they lead by example. This instils confidence and builds the much-needed trust. Talking the talk is not enough. A leader needs to demonstrate that they can action what they are asking others to do.
Valuing Others – and empowering them. Leaders trust and empower their team to do what is needed and are there to support and provide structure and guidance. They are mentors and coaches, as well as decision-makers and goal setters. They ensure there is a strong succession plan and grade their own success on how well their people succeed as individuals. They see building relationships as key. The very definition of a leader means there must be a willing group of people to lead and by valuing your team and having strong relationships, the leader themselves is strengthened.
Open and Honest Communication – an authentic leader is seen as ethical, responsive and approachable. By listening and responding to the team’s needs and concerns, the leader not only gains trust but also influence. The ability to be open and honest, even showing emotion at times, is a characteristic not to be undervalued.
Positivity – having a can-do mentality and a positive outlook can drive a leader. The ability to face challenges robustly increases faith and trust in the leader’s competency and skills. Positivity can give insight into how things could be and provide the drive to achieve it.
If your senior team demonstrate these characteristics consistently, you have a good chance of having a strong authentic leadership team.
If you would like help and support in reviewing your recruitment process to attract individual’s with these qualities, developing your senior team’s leadership skills or reviewing your leadership plan, we would love to hear from you. We provide outsourced HR expert advice, coaching and training, either on-line or face to face.
We’re driven by making a positive impact on your business by finding a solution that works for you. Call us on 01473 360160 or arrange a free one-hour consultation.