How to become an authentic leader


Navigating office relationships can be tricky, particularly for those in leadership positions. From strictly professional to more personal, how leaders interact with their employees, can set the tone for the entire office. Therefore, striking the right balance is critical to achieving a cohesive and trusting workplace.

According to Randstad’s most recent gender engagement study, 84 percent of women agree that their relationship with their direct supervisor has a big impact on how happy they are with their job. While oversharing can diminish one’s authority, not sharing enough can make managers seem disinterested and closed-off.


An HBR magazine article, Be Yourself, but Carefully, explores the current state of work relationships, cautioning that “the rise in collaborative workplaces and dynamic teams over recent years has only heightened the demand for ‘instant intimacy,’ and managers are supposed to set an example.”

Delving into possible pitfalls, the article went on to say that, “the honest sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences at work is a double-edged sword: Despite its potential benefits, self-disclosure can backfire if it’s hastily conceived, poorly timed, or inconsistent with cultural or organizational norms—hurting your reputation, alienating employees, fostering distrust, and hindering teamwork.”

These tips can help you get started on your quest to be a more authentic, better communicating and ultimately more trusting leader:

Know yourself

It is near impossible for another person to know you, if you don’t know yourself. According to a Forbes article, What Is Authentic Leadership, “Authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions.”

Then, stop putting yourself first

Once you understand who you are, it’s time to start thinking beyond yourself. Professional Mentor and Career Acceleration Coach at Illustra Consulting, Sarah Hathorn, recommends “starting from a place of service.” She goes on to explain that, “Service involves putting your own advancement and ego aside to focus on the needs of the team and business.”

Develop and maintain relationships

Make an investment by taking the time to understand your audience. If you do not have a sense of what employees want, and more importantly what they need, you will never gain the levels of authenticity and trust needed to build cohesive teams.

Finally, exercise integrity!

Integrity should transcend through personal and professional relationships. Michal Hyatt, an expert on helping leaders leverage influence, argues that integrity is the foundation of authentic leadership and that “integrity—or the lack thereof—ultimately determines the quality of a person’s impact.”

Authentic leadership isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Genuine, dynamic workplace relationships are cultivated over time, and as a leader you should take the appropriate steps to make ongoing and meaningful connections with your staff based on what they need, not what you want to provide.

By: Sonya Hinds / On: November 03, 2014 /

In: Leadership, Career Advice, Women Powering Business