Why Authentic Leaders Need to Be Self Aware

Authentic-leadersIn just about every article and book I read about authentic leaders, we learn how self-awareness is a cornerstone to authenticity. There are good reasons for this.

Authentic leaders know themselves well, notes Brenda Ellington Booth, a clinical professor of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

When leaders are self-aware, they recognize their limitations and weaknesses, and they can openly admit to them. This leads to being able to learn to compensate for faults in order to find workable solutions. Focusing on self-improvement, with an emphasis on asking others to assist, is as authentic as it gets.

Leaders who fully understand and express their vision are clear about promoting it—and more successful in getting others to believe in it. People will follow a leader who has a passion for everyone’s future. Understand what motivates this passion within you, and apply it to your advantage.

When you identify the values that affirm you, there’s no need to focus on being popular. You grow stronger from these inner affirmations—not from others’ approval. Your objective should be to give your best, even when those around you don’t. Authenticity allows you to move forward, confident in knowing who you are and where you’re going.

“The essence of leadership is not trying to emulate someone else, no matter how brilliant they are. Nor is it having the ideal leadership style, achieving competencies or fixing your weaknesses. In fact, you don’t need power or titles to lead. You only have to be authentic.” ~ Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor, author True North.

How can you become a more self-aware leader? You need to reflect on what you have learned from your experiences. Introspection can come from keeping a journal, meditating, praying or just sitting quietly. Next, seek honest feedback from people you work with. The best developmental tool is 360-degree feedback from peers, subordinates and superiors. And of course, working with a professional coach you can trust will help you become more self-aware and authentic.

How are you honing your self-awareness? What are you seeing in your workplace? Are your leaders paying attention to ways to build authenticity? I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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