The Importance of Authenticity in Leadership

“Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.”

– Adam Grant, Psychologist

There is a common misconception that effective leadership can only be found in certain molds. Being overtly tough, unfeeling, and unaffected by failure, are all things people generally think of when they think of leadership. However, attempting to seem authentic without truly meaning it will come off as inauthentic and do more harm than good. In fact, having a sense of authenticity and transparency can have an increasingly positive effect on those you lead.

It is no secret that more and more people are opening up about their mental health and general wellbeing. People, and likely the people you lead, respond well to empathy. Being empathetic and open with your employees allows for the emergence of a sense of comfortability and trust that being emotionless and rigid would prevent. This sort of authenticity also shows your employees that you’re not afraid to expose a part of your true self and will inspire them to do the same. Having a mutual understanding enables your employees to better respond to your leadership and trust in your decisions.

Still, “being yourself” is not always the simplest task, especially when you’re in a position with so many eyes on you. In establishing authenticity, you have to be able to digest criticism properly. Being authentic can also mean discovering your weaknesses and conquering them, and this may also mean exposing some of your flaws to your employees. But at the same time, it allows you to fully enact your strengths without any worry of how you are perceived.

Of course, this doesn’t mean acting without a filter, everything must be done in smart and good taste, but simply putting yourself out there to be evaluated by yourself and others can make you and those you lead, stronger. You should be leading as your true self, someone who understands your goal and has no issue being the person you genuinely are in order to reach it.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization