Being true to yourself, to what you represent, makes people clearly understand the way you think and the things you want to achieve with them. But how can authentic leadership be achieved? Today, Jeffrey Edwards welcomes you to the premiere episode of The Leader’s Chair podcast, where he shares his ideas on how to be the right leader to the right people. With the aim of allowing you to establish a mindset of improvement, Jeffrey shares his pillars to authentic leadership along with some guide questions you can ask yourself to assess your leadership authenticity.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Pillars Of Authentic Leadership
I am happy to have you join us on this show. Our topic is a topic that I’ve found that’s out there in the world that every day I come across and it’s about authentic leadership. What is authentic leadership? If we look at the definition in the dictionary, being authentic relates to or as it says, “It relates to an emotionally appropriate or significant, purposeful, and responsible mode of human life.” In other words, the way I would summarize that is simply it’s being true to yourself. How true are you in all that you do, in every situation that people can look to and say, “That’s who you are, that’s what you represent?”
People will understand the way you think, the way you act and the things you do all align with the person that you are, hence, being authentic. It becomes challenging when we see day-to-day in the news, in the press, and in our personal lives where people hold positions of leadership and we necessarily see them doing one thing but acting or being different in a different situation. That shakes confidence. It shakes that confidence and that trust that can be established and makes leading people that much more difficult down the road. The great thing is that you, reading this blog, you’re of the mindset that you’re looking at how you can improve. How are some of the tangible and practical steps that you could take or continue to take that’s going to not only improve your sense of leadership in terms of mindset but also establish your platform and your influence in leadership roles?
What I came across were several different questions to ask you that would give a gauge to what authenticity or level of authentic leadership of where you at right now. The first question is being truthful. How truthful are you and how comfortable are you in speaking your truth? One of the elements of any leader is sometimes we have to give the news. We have to state the situation and where that may not always be pleasant. It’s done in a way that’s going to be respectful and also has a purpose. For you, think of a situation you may be in or have been in, where being truthful was difficult. It was a challenge because there might have been feeling hurt. People might have been angry or people might stop liking you.By being truthful as a leader, you're helping people improve their own lives. Click To Tweet
What is the cost of not being truthful? What are the implications or consequences if the truth becomes only a choice versus the way of being for you? What can people come to expect from you over time? Can they rely on you and trust what you say? Is there always going to be an element of doubt in the back of their mind because they’ve seen other occasions where you may or may not have been as forthright? Where do you see yourself on that scale 1 to 10? One being low, ten being high in terms of your being truthful. What are some examples of how you show that in your everyday life? It’s not just in the workplace. It’s not just in the home.
Being truthful is being truthful and that’s all part of being authentic. It’s the core, the essence of who you are. How often is this a part of your daily routine and how would people describe you from that perspective? Where are some areas where you could improve as well? When I was in leadership roles early in my life, being a team leader and being a teen in a high school being in student councils or sports teams. It was sometimes being hard to be that person. You had to tell a friend that they needed to either step up or they needed to correct themselves. Because there was a certain discomfort of, “What will they think of me? What will they say about me? How will this damage our relationship if it does at all?”
At the moment, it was a lot of hesitancy and I have to admit that sometimes I skirt around the truth or I made things up to make it look like that I wouldn’t be looking like the bad guy. What I’ve found over time is that it wasn’t so much about my needs and what was important. It was about getting the message out to them so that they could be better at what they do. That by being truthful as a leader, you’re helping people improve their own lives and making it more about how they can become much more of a leader. Help in their leadership ability to go up versus feeling threatened by the backlash of what people may think of me.
Another area to consider is how often do you see yourself living to your core values and principles? Growing up, it was always important for me to be in being good shape. I enjoy playing sports all my life and I was being in good shape. Part of my family history is we have relatives with diabetes and also with heart ailments. I’m always mindful that if I didn’t take care of myself, that I could fall to any one of those illnesses that tend to be hereditary in these situations. There are times where I also found that to go to the gym and to be active, sometimes took a lot of effort. Sometimes it meant that instead of going to the gym, I might sleep in. Instead of having a healthy fruit drink and a healthy breakfast, I’ll run to McDonald’s and get something quick.
It’s simple examples there when speaking about core values and principles. It usually starts at the simple. If we’re allowing ourselves to get some room or latitude on the small things, then what happens when the bigger situations come to light? How ready or willing would we be to compromise our own core values and principles in order to achieve a result or to better ourselves or to gain an advantage over someone else? That is something that we see in the news every day, don’t we? There’s no shortage of new stories about leaders who have been taken out of a corporation, organization or government.
It’s constant. Where do you want to see yourself or be seen out there? How close are you to living to the core values and principles that define your life and that you aspire to also live out day-to-day? How clear are you on what those core values and principles are, to begin with? That’s usually where it starts and I know from coaching over twenty years, asking that question gets people to start thinking about, “What do I believe? What do I stand for? What are my core values?” Instead of going with what is popular and going with what I should be doing, it’s now a time to reflect on who are you and what do you stand for?
Our third pillar to authentic leadership is keeping your commitments. How often do you keep your commitments? If you were to put on a scale of 0 to 100 in terms of percentages, do you keep your commitments 50%, 75%, 80%, 90% of the time? Where do you stand on that? I can say with most honesty and to all of you that, “Yes, I sucked at that for a long time.” I say that not with a lot of pride, but I say that because I’m being truthful. One of the reasons why I was lousy in keeping commitments was because I overcommitted to many things. How often do you find yourself involved in so many different activities and saying yes to all people only to realize that when you sit down and look at all what you’ve committed to doing, that there aren’t enough hours in the day or a week or let alone a month for you to get everything done?Part of being able to keep a commitment is by being truthful. Click To Tweet
Part of the trap that we can get into a leadership position in making the commitments because we feel like we have to meet the commitment. We have to say yes because, as a leader, that’s what we are expected to do. Part of being able to keep a commitment is also being truthful and how all seem to connect here. What if we’re being true to ourselves and being true to the people in front of us, then we can also say, “No, this is what I can do. This is what I’m unable to do.” It’s an opportunity to have a discussion to look at, “Are opportunities to delegate? Are there opportunities to develop new leaders?”
For other people to get experience so that they can learn from you and at the same time get something new under their belt so they can still build their skillset and experience along the way. Those are three different areas here. The fundamental that I see when it comes down to, are you an authentic leader? Authentic leadership as much as I love many people out there who talk about it, share their stories, courses, and books, are just three things. Do you live your core values and your principles on a consistent basis? Do you know what those are and are you clear on what they are and what they look like in your life? Are you truthful to the commitments to who you are, to the people you deal with and the people around you? Three is how well do you keep up with your commitments? Do you overcommit and therefore, you stretch yourself out to a point where you can’t deliver?
Do you keep things in a light that you can keep yourself moving forward and also look for opportunities for other development and growth for other people? Let’s start there. The more that we can ask ourselves those questions and be truthful, it offers many opportunities to see how we can improve. Also, look at what we do and what we don’t do. The more that we can be in line with who we are and be clear on what that is for ourselves, then authenticity is natural and follows after that. Thank you for sharing this time with me and I look forward to the next time when you and I are going to get together and sit back, enjoy and see the world from The Leader’s Chair. Until next time, take care and lead on.