Authentic leadership and why it’s crucial for business success

Creating engaged, motivated employees and harnessing their true potential is an important goal for most organisations. Research has shown that companies with strong leadership are 13 times more likely to outperform their competition, and three times more likely to retain their most talented employees.

Today’s leaders are challenged with engaging more stakeholders than ever, keeping up with digital transformation and managing higher expectations from the C-level. When organisations focus on nurturing their leaders, it can build a positive atmosphere and also increase team performance.

Although there are many theories, courses and training on leadership styles, what does it really take to be an authentic leader?

Having your own style

Leaders are integral to shaping a team, so it’s important for organisations to encourage a culture that embraces diversity and allows leaders to be their authentic self. Everyone has their own leadership style, so I encourage organisations to consciously avoid moulding each manager to suite a certain way of working. My recommendation to leaders is not to be afraid to be yourself – this can go a long way to reaching true potential. When leaders are confident and comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, this culture will spread to the wider team, with a variety of perspectives, work styles and world views not only encouraged but essential for the best results.

Understanding the brand

Branding plays a significant role in any organisation – it helps shape the culture, facilitates leadership, and helps inform the right mindset, skills and resources. Ensuring that each leader understands the brand strategy of the company, and believes in the organisation’s mission, is integral so they can clearly communicate this to the rest of the team and perform their role effectively. Companies that have strong brand engagement are successful at creating leaders who believe in the organisation’s vision. They ensure all employees understand the significance of branding and how it impacts each function of the business, including their own contributions. Organisations need to integrate relevant training initiatives across the business to ensure all managers understand and believe in the brand – they can then inspire their own team to work towards a common goal.

Encouraging self-care as a priority

Despite increased research around the importance of creating work-life balance – both for productivity and happiness – self-care can still seem self-indulgent rather than a necessity. But looking after yourself is a crucial trait for effective leadership. When your body and mind are well-rested, it increases your energy levels and fuels creativity. In fact, when we have less than six hours of sleep, our cognitive abilities are reduced to the same levels as someone who is intoxicated. Not only do effective leaders need to prioritise self-care, but they also need to promote it to their staff. When leaders promote this kind of work-life balance, it nurtures a culture where self-care is prioritised – creating happier, more productive and motivated employees.

Being conscious

Authenticity is being your genuine self, and consciousness is being aware of and managing your personality (instead of it managing you). Being a conscious leader means having total awareness in your leadership position, and requires you to be your authentic self. This might sound complicated, but at the core conscious leaders are incredibly self-aware, intentional and in tune with themselves. They have a genuine desire to reach an organisation’s goals and to empower their team rather than act toward any personal gain. Coaching leaders on authentic self and consciousness is integral to driving this focused, positive mindset through the organisation.

Kris Grant, CEO, ASPL

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