I recently created a training on Authentic Leadership for a group of women business leaders and was struck by how much of the theory is based on the rules of conduct that my parents taught me as a child and that I still use in my business and personal relationships today.
The premise of authentic leadership is based on a Greek theory “to know thyself” and is translated to modern times to mean be yourself and treat others in an upfront and truthful manner (George, 2004). The foundational concepts of authentic leadership require leaders to:
- Be self-aware – know who you are and in what you believe!
- Be genuine – be truthful and transparent!
- Be fair-minded – get different perspectives and diverse opinions!
- Be ethical – do the right thing!
Authentic leaders (George, 2004):
- Understand their purpose
- Practice solid values
- Lead with the heart
- Establish connected relationships
- Demonstrate self-discipline
If you are wondering why is it important to be authentic and to act with integrity, consider this proposition from Bill George, who is considered the father of authentic leadership:
“Integrity is the one value that is required in every authentic leader. Integrity is not just the absence of lying, but telling the whole truth, as painful as it may be. If you don’t exercise complete integrity in your interactions, no one can trust you. If they cannot trust you, why would they ever follow you?” (George, 2004).
Leaders are accountable to those who follow them to lead in a responsible and truthful way. This will not always be easy; it will require courage, consistency, and focus. As a result, authentic leaders can make a significant impact on their followers and accomplishment of organizational objectives.
George, Bill. (2004). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass