In my last two posts, I discussed why leaders don’t practice authenticity, as well as why authenticity is a powerful leadership tool. Today, I want to discuss how to be more authentic as a leader. These are a few suggestions, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but simply to serve as a challenge for all of us (myself included) to lead with more authenticity.
5 Ways to be a more authentic leader:
Share a personal story
Your individual story doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out tear-jerker, but simply something people don’t know about you. Talk about your family, your kids, your dog (or cat – eesh!). Tell people about your favorite vacation spot (here’s mine) or one of your hobbies.
Let people in and let them know what you like and what you’re like. There are some things, however, that you want to keep to yourself.
Tell one of your most embarrassing moments
Telling an embarrassing moment shows a true willingness to be vulnerable with your team. You don’t have to share every embarrassing moment (for some, this could take a while :)). Sharing this kind of story, though, helps make you approachable and seem more “human”.
Show interest in others
I think we’ve all been around those people who do nothing but talk about themselves. To me, this shows a lack of self-confidence. Nothing says “insecurity” like a conversation all about me, me, me. Ask questions of others, get to know them and what they like. You don’t even have to engage in a long conversation, you can show interest and build trust quickly.
Laugh at yourself
I love to laugh and have always loved a good joke; however, it took me a long time to learn to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously. (I had such a problem with anxiety I had an ulcer before the 8th grade and 3 of them in college.) Once I did learn to laugh at myself, a new level of freedom opened up for me, and now I laugh at myself quite often. (TBH – there’s a lot to laugh at!)
Share your vision and dreams
Our vision and dreams do not define us, but they give others a better glimpse of who we really are. Share your leadership vision with your team.
What is your vision for your own life and work?
What are you passionate about?
What keeps you up at night with excitement or anxiety?
Authenticity, like leadership, is a journey. There may be times when you overstep the authenticity boundaries, or people may feel that you aren’t “real” enough. Keep trying, and eventually you will find the right balance in this area.
What are some other ways to be an authentic leader? How do you practice authenticity with your team? Talk to me, Goose! Let me know in the comments below.