July 1st, 2015
Authentic Leadership has long been the mark of someone who is able to maintain a workforce that is connected, driven and most importantly, passionate about what they do. By leading in an authentic way, leaders allow themselves, and those around them, to play to their strengths, as well as creating an environment that values good communication and honesty above all else. These are the three key principles and effects of authentic leadership, which will allow your business to reach its’ full potential.
A Culture of Excellence
A culture of excellence can be created in many ways, the important thing is to make sure that employees themselves are inspired and want to strive to improve the business however they can. The best ways to do this are by encouraging and rewarding honesty and acceptance of flaws and strengths. It is crucial that employees strive for excellence, not perfection, they should be encouraged to embrace their weaknesses and should not fear being wrong, as long as their intentions are good. By setting up benchmark goals, which can be rewarded with small things such as extended lunch breaks and more flexible schedules, employees will feel that their contributions are worthwhile.
On a similar note, in order to encourage employees to help make progress for the business as a whole, it is important that their work schedules are not constantly crammed with things to do, as this means they will become bogged down in the smaller details rather than being able to look at the bigger picture. Allow for some of the less crucial, smaller jobs on employee’s schedules to slide and progress will be made.
To achieve a culture of excellence in their business, an authentic leader must know themselves very well. Leading by example is crucial, and they themselves must embrace both flaws and strengths to work to their full potential. The days of the tyrannical leader are over; employees want to feel that someone who is open, communicative, passionate and most importantly human is leading them. By bypassing a fixed persona of someone who always needs to be on top of their game, an authentic leader can rely on people in their business to help and guide them in times of weakness or vulnerability, it is important that even as a leader they feel like part of the team.
Trust and respect
The mistake of many leaders is to think that by being in a position of power they have earned automatic respect from their employees. Employees may be respectful of the position the leader is in, however they do not necessarily respect or trust the person behind it, especially with the new generation of millennials coming through who are more aware and more inherently distrustful than ever.
Integrity is central to earning both respect and trust from employees. It is crucial they lead by example, work hard and make clear that the work being done is to benefit the business as a whole, rather than their own ego. By constantly involving employees in conversations about the business, they inspire respect as employees feel valued, and build trust. Ultimately, trust and respect are two things that can only be gained over time; by delivering on promises, and demonstrating quality and consistency of character, a leader will gain both of these things, strengthening both their business and relationships with their employees.
A connected workforce
Creating a connected, enthusiastic workforce is an achievable goal, but requires thought and care from all involved. It is important as a leader to give employees what they want and need to do their job. By providing the necessary tools, time and support needed, a leader demonstrates their respect and understanding of the employee’s role, which motivates the employee further. By establishing a common vocabulary of words used to represent the goal and drive of the company, a leader can ensure that everyone is on the same page and striving for the same things.
It is also important to make sure that contact and communication is regular with and between employees. Make sure that you keep distributing memos, letters and emails and stay connected with employees so they know what they are doing, and are able to stay on task. Overall, a connected workforce will come as a result of a leader who unifies them through enjoyment of their jobs, respect and understanding for the role of each individual - it goes without saying that politeness and good behavior also go a long way in unifying and connecting people to their jobs!
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Promoting authenticity within your business