authentic leaders embraces own uniqueness

As the election year begins to heat up and the political races gain speed, it’s undeniable that no matter what political party you believe in — there is one thing that everyone is watching and that is of course Mr. Trump’s hair. Yes, I said it, this wavy follicle train wreck which has been discussed over 24,000,000 times (according to Google search) has captivated the world for decades and is now front and center for all late night talk show hosts to joke about.

Let’s be clear, Donal Trump may be a lot of things (both good and bad) but there is no denying the mans presence. Whether it’s his orange glowing face, his lack of filter, his somewhat arrogant and confusing way of speaking or his robotic fashion sense – this man is definitely one of a kind. Some have noted that both his political platform and hair are equal mysteries but no matter what you believe about Mr. Trump (or his hair helmet) there is no denying the fact he is a unique individual or dare I say “authentic?”.

I tried to get an interview with Mr. Trump’s hair but it wasn’t taking any calls. Instead, I was left to my own devices to determine just how this mans hair would provide me the answers I was seeking regarding being authentic and being a leader and how anyone (not running for president) could demonstrate Authentic Leadership.

Let’s set aside Mr. Trump for a moment and look at what his hair can teach us about Authentic Leadership.

According to Webster’s, there definition of authentic is quite simple:

adjective   au·then·tic   \ə-ˈthen-tik, ȯ-\         (1) being really what it seems to be      (2) true to one’s own personality, spirit,
or character

In addition and according to a recent Huffington Post article, authentic people typically possess:

  • High Self-Esteem
  • Embrace Vulnerability
  • Share Your True Thoughts & Beliefs With The World
  • You Openly Give & Receive Compliments
  • You Intentionally Listen To Others
  • You Are Driven By Your Inner Voice & Not Your Surroundings

If that’s the basic definition of (being) authentic, then what is Authentic Leadership?

“Authentic leadership is a genuine 
approach to leadership. Authentic leaders are those whose actions are based on their core values.
They are originals.”

– Jeff James, VP Disney Institute

He goes on to explain that authentic leader possess the following:

  • Authentic leaders are self-aware. They’re not afraid to show their real selves to their followers. Their behavior doesn’t differ whether they are in public or in private; they don’t hide their mistakes out of fear of looking weak.
  • Authentic leaders are mission driven and focus on results. The goals of the organization come before their own self-interest.
  • Authentic leaders lead with their heart (in addition to their mind). They are direct, yet empathetic. They are not afraid to show vulnerabilities to connect with their followers.
  • Authentic leaders focus on the long-term. Short-term goals sometimes pale in comparison to the big picture. This type of leader takes the time and has the patience to nurture his followers, which usually pays dividends in the long haul.

Here are 9 things that you can start doing today to become a more authentic leader:

  1. Lead from your heart. The best leaders understand the value and power of showing their vulnerability. They genuinely care about other people and spend their days developing the people around them. This is not a “fake until you make it” situation but rather a gradual shift for some in how they express themselves and for others a welcomed opportunity. In the end, people can sense when they are being lied to or led down the wrong path.
  2. Speak your truth. In business today, it’s all to ‘swallow our truth’ in hopes to not offend anyone as well as look good and/or smart in front of a crowd. Authentic leaders are different. They consistently talk truth. They look to align their words with their core values, beliefs and ultimately actions. This is not reckless off the cuff speaking with the intention to cause others harm but rather being clear, being honest and being authentic.
  3. Have rich moral fiber. Who you are being speaks far more loudly than anything you do. Strength of character is true power – and people can feel it a mile away. Authentic leaders work on their presence and energy of character. They walk their talk and are aligned with their core values. They understand how valuable their integrity is and intentionally look to keep that in check. In doing so, people trust, respect and listen to them.
  4. Be courageous. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary and be willing to against the status quo. We live in a world where so many people walk the path of least resistance. Authentic leadership is all about taking the road less traveled and doing, not what is easy, but what is right.
  5. Deepen your self-awareness. The job of the leader is to go deep. Authentic leaders know themselves intimately. They nurture a strong self-relationship. They know their weaknesses and play to their strengths.
  6. Build teams and create communities. Authentic leaders create workplaces that foster human linkages and lasting friendships. One of the primary things that people are looking for in their work experience is a sense of community and authentic leaders look to cultivate this anywhere they can.
  7. Dream. Einstein said that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It is from our imaginations that great things are born. Authentic leaders dare to dream impossible dreams. They see what everyone else sees and then dream up new possibilities.
  8. Take exquisite care of yourself. Taking care of your physical dimension is a sign of self-respect. You can’t do great things at work if you don’t feel good. Authentic leaders eat well, exercise and care for the temples that are their bodies. They recognize that the access to being is taking care of the wellbeing and committing to this fact allows them to show up for others.
  9. Commit to excellence over perfection. No human being is perfect. In fact perfection is a myth that authentic leaders realize at a deep level and rather adopt the mindset that we are all a work in progress. Authentic leaders commit themselves to excellence in everything that they do. They are constantly pushing the envelope and raising their standards. They do not seek perfection and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Final Thoughts:
People look for authenticity in others and becoming an authentic leader is not easy. It takes a great deal of self-reflection (getting to know oneself), and the courage to do the right thing. It involves a degree of selflessness while acknowledging your own uniqueness. When in doubt, remember that authentic leadership stems from the following:

  • Self-Awareness (“Know Thyself”). A prerequisite for being an authentic leader is knowing your own strengths, limitations, and values. Knowing what you stand for and what you value is critical.
  • Relational Transparency (“Be Genuine”). This involves being honest and straightforward in dealing with others. An authentic leader does not play games or have a hidden agenda. You know where you stand with an authentic leader.
  • Balanced Processing (“Be Fair-Minded”). An effective authentic leader solicits opposing viewpoints and considers all options before choosing a course of action.
  • Internalized Moral Perspective (“Do the Right Thing”). An authentic leader has an ethical core. They know what the right thing to do is and are typically driven by a concern for ethics and fairness.

Remember that anyone has the capacity to become an authentic leader but not everyone has the passion or patience it takes to succeed on the developmental journey required. So, what type of leadership journey have you been on? Are you an authentic leader?