Mary Jean Vignone
March 7, 2024

What does it mean to be an Authentic Leader?

The word authentic is constantly heard and can mean different things to different people. It means showing up as who you truly are, which is too vague when describing an authentic leader. There is a body of scholarly research and theories about Authentic Leadership that includes self-awareness, moral and ethical values, being open to listening to diverse opinions and being transparent about who you are. 

Authentic leaders guide their actions and decision based on their core values and acknowledge that every person has something of value to contribute. Authentic leaders have a deep sense of ethics and transparency that fosters trust.

Authentic leaders are self-aware and understand their strengths and limitations. Self-awareness is an attribute of Emotional Intelligence, and there is a direct correlation between Authentic Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

During times of uncertainty, when we find ourselves, people want to feel that their leaders care about them. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are more acutely aware of others’ emotions. When people fear the unknown, they need someone they trust to deliver honest messages without the “spin.” The combination of authenticity and emotional intelligence brings in the ability to honestly address concerns while maintaining a positive future vision. Doubt is less likely to set in when employees and leaders work together, bringing their whole selves to create a desired future state.

So, take stock of your leadership style. Are you being authentic? Are you using your emotional intelligence to build trusting relationships? Do you seek different perspectives before making a critical decision? Are you living your values every day? Do you encourage others to be authentic?

If you answered yes to all these questions, congratulations, you are on your way to being an authentic leader. If you need some help in one or more areas, find the right coach or mentor to help you develop the skills and mindsets required to lead in today’s VUCA world.

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