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Thirsty Thursdays: Leadership Lessons: Authenticity

Leadership Lessons: Authenticity

Keeping it "real" has been pop jargon for some time.  Derived from examples when someone achieved sudden and great success, often including riches, but have maintained the values, beliefs and behaviors that are true to their roots.  It is meant to be a contrast to the many examples where someone realizes those achievements and then allows the fame and money to reshape their morals, attitudes and actions.  Being authentic as a leader has three major components.  Let's see what they are and why they matter.

In order to design rockets, write code, build skyscrapers or be successful at similar endeavors you must have the appropriate IQ.  But to lead people, effectively interact with a team and achieve success in an ever-increasing social world it takes EQ, also referred to as Emotional Intelligence. 

EQ is being able to observe and interpret the behaviors and actions of others, then being able to appropriately interpret and adjust your own behaviors and actions to allow for effective interactions.  

High EQ allows someone to read and react more quickly as social interactions unfold.  And it helps to get a handle on emotions before they spin out of control and negatively impact the situation.

Emotions are the essential element of what you're controlling and managing during social interactions as you utilize your EQ.

Have you ever seen someone who cares nothing for the feelings of others?  We all have.  Think of how that made you feel when you observed that.  That's a person with low EQ if they can't choose to act more constructively.  Conversely, think of a time that someone validated your thoughts, ideas and feelings and how good that made you feel.   

This is an easy contrast to see, but now project the life and career of each person and you can see how simple it is to know who will be more successful, all else being equal.

There are several components of EQ and perhaps the most critical is empathy.  Are you more willing to follow an authoritarian leader who demands obedience and barks orders, a limp-noodle leader who blows with the wind, or one who operates with high standards, applies them consistently to all team members, holds everyone accountable but also cuts people a break when she recognizes that it's a reasonable exception for whatever reason, business or personal?

The ability for a leader to observe and inquire about the difficulties a staff member is going through and adjust their approach to allow for the appropriate latitude in a deliverable, deadline, etc. is one of the most powerful leadership tools anyone can have and use.



I believe that authentic leadership and positive, desired organizational outcomes are inexorably linked.  The ability for a leader at any level to rally people through a shared vision, coordinate them to act together with an effective plan and to do so with excitement and energy demands that the leader be trustworthy and authentic.  This doesn't mean candy-coating tough realities.  It doesn't mean making grandiose statements which are exaggerations of the truth.  And it doesn't mean downplaying wins and success which happens all too often as well.  

Authentic leadership that best serves everyone on a team and in an organization means being a real person.  Celebrating wins with everyone, dealing with failures head on but privately, setting high standards, holding everyone to those high standards equally, having genuine care, interest and compassion for your people, taking the time to understand their developmental wants and needs, and understanding when someone just needs a pass when they made an error.  

If you can take these traits to heart, adapt your approach to incorporate them through good practice and commit to being a true, authentic leader then your family, team and organization will be unstoppable and you'll accomplish anything you set out to achieve.

Have a safe, happy and healthy 4th of July.  Remember to appreciate and thank those who serve and protect - military, police, fire and rescue.

Thirsty Thursdays are about our collective thirst for learning and knowledge.  It’s not about Beer:30 [although HR4ALL is all for that, too!]  We hope this weekly nugget of knowledge opens your mind and gives you a reason to pause and think differently.    Have a great weekend everyone! 

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