As a leader, you probably look to other leaders for tips on how to think and behave in order to be effective and successful in your role. Some leadership skills may come naturally to you while others may be outside of your comfort zone. While it's important to push yourself to grow and learn, you might not want to stray too far from your authentic self. Research has shown that an employee's perception of authentic leadership is the strongest predictor of his or her job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, and overall happiness at work. According to professor and Discover Your True North author Bill George, it takes more than just showing up to work to come across as authentic.
Here are four simple ways to increase your authenticity in your employees' eyes.
1. Admit your mistakes
As the proverb goes, "to err is human." Leaders are just as human as their employees, and it is natural that you will make mistakes over the course of your career. The key is to recognize your mistake and to galvanize the right team of people to help you solve the problem. In doing so, you not only connect with your employees at a human level, but you also implicitly encourage employees to admit their mistakes in the future. This creates an open, accepting culture where everyone helps each other succeed to help the whole team win.
2. Share personal development goals
As you are working with employees to help them set and attain long-term career goals, you are probably thinking about your own growth path. Just because you are seen as a leader doesn't mean you need to come across as perfect. In fact, it's better if you don't. When you identify and share your development goals with your employees, you open a two-way feedback dialogue, through which you can assess your employees and they can comfortably do the same for you. In the end, this will only help you become a better leader for your employees.
3. Share how you really feel
People like to connect with others, and they do so with their hearts, not their minds. Though you may not want to be completely open with your employees, it's important to find a level at which you can connect at a personal level. One way might be to supplement sales and revenue discussions with a discussion of business goals in terms of consumers and product satisfaction. Another might be to share what you are excited to work on and why. What makes you nervous? What keeps you up at night? These are feelings that will resonate with your employees.
4. Tell the whole story
Although your employees cannot be involved in every decision or meeting that you might be involved in, it's important to bring them along for the journey. When they are aware of the overall story, your employees will feel included and thus more invested in the role they play, their work, and the organization in general. Instead of sharing only outcomes with employees, share the process--what was the problem? How was it solved? Who was involved in solving it? What were the different suggestions and points of view? By telling the whole story, you build trust with your employees.
Here's to bringing your whole self to work, and becoming a more successful leader because of it.