One of the most important aspects of effective leadership I have talked about before is establishing a firm foundation built on trust. This is important to the success and upward growth of the organization and the leader. And one of the most important characteristics of a trustworthy leader is how authentic or “real” they are. Nobody wants to follow a fake.
Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust. – Lance Secretan
When I think about authenticity the first thing that comes to mind are those times when I would wait in line for hours on end just to get one signature from a famous sports player, actor, author, or NASCAR driver. I collected quite a few of these signatures over time and I knew that if I wanted them to bring more value later on, I would need a certificate of authenticity. When that wasn’t available I would at least try to get a picture of the person actually signing my item. This validated the item as authentic and real and the next buyer would be more likely to trust that it was indeed real.
As a leader you don’t come with a certificate of authenticity. You don’t have something to hand out to your team letting them know they can trust you right away. You do, however, need to be able to validate your leadership in some way to gain that trust, to get that credibility and to get people on your side.
An authentic leader:
Will take a stance and have a point of view.
Sure, I understand that if you are on the fence about something, it is easy to change your mind. But flip-flopping is one sure way to lose credibility. If your stance changes, let it be known.
Will say one thing and do that one thing.
You have heard the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.” An authentic leader doesn’t say things like this. They should emulate the person they want their followers to become.
Will reach out to you before you have a chance to reach out to them.
Authentic leaders are anxious to provide chances for development. They spot the opportunity and take the initiative to step forward first.
Wears one face.
They come to work with the same face they wore at breakfast. They go home with the same face they wore at the last meeting of the day. Leadership starts at home and authenticity is a character trait that has only one face. Leaders ought not carry a mask in the console. What you see is what you get.