Not all well-intentioned leaders have the impact they desire.
Some individuals find themselves in leadership roles by default and promotions despite the fact that they don't enjoy the responsibility and pressure of managing others. They lack the desire, grooming, and temperament needed to be efficient and persuasive leaders.
Many others, however, enjoy the perks of standing in front of a group of people. They do their best to manage group tasks and maximize communication, but may have other shortcomings that are outside of their awareness.
When a true leader walks into the room, you feel the power of their presence. They command the attention in a way that communicates their confidence and self-trust, and they give you permission to be yourself.
The best leaders know that each person performs at their highest level when their individual strengths are maximized within the context of a shared vision.
Here's three steps to become an authentic leader and maximize your impact:
1. Confront your existential position.
While no one wants to think about or acknowledge how their drive for financial success stems from a denial of mortality, it's important to face your fears.
It's only through staring death in the face that we realize the choice we have to live a meaningful life. As the authors of our own existence, we have the ability to choose how we live and what we value, but we also have to acknowledge our responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions.
When you confront the reality of freedom and responsibility, isolation, death, and meaninglessness, you discover your underlying philosophies and values that are the foundation for all leadership (and life) decisions.
Staying rooted in your existential position enables you to engage with the world in a more genuine and authentic manner.
2. Reflect on your value-formation process.
Learning more about your own development will highlight the way you frame business decisions. Most leaders develop a way of viewing themselves, others, and the world that are rooted in early experiences.
Depending on how your family transmitted values around money, you may have difficulty stomaching financial risk despite the possibility for significant returns. If your lived experiences taught you that authoritarian discipline and criticism results in effective behavior modification and increased productivity, you may be more likely than other leaders to berate coworkers in public.
The more you can reflect on your values, the more awareness you'll bring to the decision table and the more you'll know about your own leadership style.
3. Acknowledge the co-construction.
The social domain of authentic leadership acknowledges that people are constricted by the context of organizational culture.
If each person had no desire to conform to the business, it's unlikely that work would be productive and efficient, as some individual sacrifice is needed for the wellbeing of the group. While you and your employees may not be able to be the same person you are within each of your respective homes, it's important that you each have the space to remain rooted in your true selves within the work environment.
Great leaders navigate social restrictions by staying grounded in what makes them unique and living in accordance to their own values. Leaders with a genuine sense of authenticity gives others permission to move beyond themselves and become meaningful contributors to the company.
Drop the masquerade. If you want to lead others, then you need to embrace your true self and live according to your values. After confronting the ultimate truths of life, you can align your professional aspirations with your personal philosophy.
When your behaviors are congruent with your genuine way-of-being in the world, then you have the ability to influence others and be the leader you've always wanted to become.