Unleashing your leadership mojo - audio
Effective leadership is more critical than ever in today’s fast-paced and constantly changing business environment. But what does it mean to be a truly effective leader? Is it simply a matter of achieving results and driving organizational success? Or is there something more to it?
Increasingly, researchers and practitioners recognize the importance of a leadership style that emphasizes authenticity, transparency, and self-awareness. This style, known as authentic leadership, is based on the idea that leaders who are true to themselves and their values are more effective in motivating and inspiring their teams.
In this blog post, I’ll explore the concept of authentic leadership, or as I like to call it, leadership mojo, in more detail, looking at its key characteristics, benefits, and strategies for development. I’ll also share some of the challenges leaders may face and provide suggestions for overcoming these challenges.
Defining authentic leadership
Authentic leadership is a style of leadership that emphasizes honesty, transparency, and self-awareness. Researchers say authentic leaders are “genuine, real, and true to themselves” (Avolio & Gardner, 2005, p. 327). They are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities or weaknesses and are willing to be open and transparent with their followers.
There are four key characteristics of authentic leadership:
Self-awareness: You know your strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. You deeply understand yourself and your motivations and can reflect on your behavior and actions.
Transparency: You’re open and transparent with your team. You share information freely and are willing to admit when you don’t know something or have made a mistake.
Balanced processing: You can consider different perspectives before making decisions. You seek input from others and are willing to listen to different opinions.
Relational transparency: You build strong, positive relationships with your team. You connect with others on a personal level and are empathetic and supportive.
So why is leadership mojo so important? Here are some key benefits:
Increased engagement and job satisfaction: When you build trust and foster a sense of belonging within your team(s), you’ll find that they will be more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
Improved performance: Motivating and inspiring your team and creating a positive and supportive work environment makes them more likely to perform better.
Better decision-making: When you’re open to considering different perspectives and viewpoints, you can make more informed decisions, including all stakeholders’ needs and interests.
Stronger relationships: When you build strong, positive relationships with your team, you’ll increase trust, loyalty, and collaboration within teams.
So how can you, as a leader, unleash your leadership mojo and develop your authenticity? Here are some strategies to consider:
Cultivate self-awareness: Reflect on your values, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses and be honest about who you are and what motivates you.
Seek feedback: Ask your team members, colleagues, and mentors for honest feedback about what they need from you as a leader and what they perceive to be your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to constructive criticism; simply allowing people to share their perspectives can shift things; you’ll learn a lot about the people you have around you.
Be vulnerable: This can be tough for many, yet admitting when you don’t know something or have made a mistake builds trust and credibility with your team members.
- Practice transparency: Be open and honest with your team members about your thoughts, feelings, and decision-making processes.
- Lead by example: Set a positive tone for your team by modeling the behaviors and attitudes you want to see in your team members. Listen actively: When your team members speak, please give them your full attention and try to understand their perspective.
While it’s highly effective, achieving it can be challenging.
Fear of vulnerability: You’re hesitant to show vulnerability or weakness because you believe it will make you appear less competent or credible. However, research has shown that it can increase trust and credibility.
Pressure to conform: In some organizations, there may be pressure to conform to a particular leadership style or set of behaviors. Don’t sell out, be yourself as much as possible and adjust to your environment.
Balancing personal and professional responsibilities: Stuff happens, so you may be distracted when personal and professional responsibilities conflict. Simply sharing that you’re going through some “stuff” with the people close to you can empower your team to step in and help or give you space to juggle the issues as best you can.
So how can you overcome these challenges and be more authentic? Here are some suggestions to consider:
Cultivate resilience: You’re in a position where people will project their opinions, fears, and doubts. Sometimes, you may second-guess yourself, too, so to thrive, develop a thick skin and cultivate a growth mindset. Invest in your natural talents, and create strategies that honor you and your team.
Seek support: No matter your role, it’s vital to have trusted people in your network that have your back, like a mentor, coach, or trusted friend at work, that can provide you with valuable support and feedback or join a mastermind or networking group.
Build a culture of authenticity:
- Help create a culture that encourages openness, transparency, and self-awareness.
- Create a mission statement and culture vibe list with your team. The culture vibe list can include things like “At X Inc., here’s what’s essential: We’re all in sales and help co-create a team vibe of trust, fun, kindness, and generosity of spirit. We take responsibility for our roles, help others, and inquire how we can add value to the company’s growth and our own,” etc.
- Model the behaviors you want to see in your team members and create opportunities for feedback and discussion.
Invest in your people:
- Make coaching available to your leaders and team ongoingly.
- Make it part of your onboarding process and continue offering it to ensure morale is thriving positively and that needs are met and safely discussed with a neutral 3rd party.
- Start with leadership development, so everyone understands what’s at stake and then take it to the team. You’ll increase engagement, and job satisfaction, improve performance, decision-making, and stronger relationships.
Happy team members will make your job easier and help you hit your revenue targets. As you continue developing your leadership mojo, remember that authenticity is not a one-time thing; it’s a journey. Embrace the journey, continue to grow, and watch your leadership, team, and organization thrive.