Leadership Development

We all want authentic leaders: here are 9 ways to encourage it at work

Authentic leadership is a hot topic and for a good reason. We all want genuine leaders who seek their team's interest, not just profit. Here are 9 ways to cultivate an authentic leadership culture.

Raja Hashaam Khan

Published on 

March 23, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

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In today's fast-paced business world, the need for authentic leadership has never been greater. Authentic leaders provide the guidance, focus, and direction needed to help organizations succeed, while also promoting a culture of trust and honesty.

Authentic leaders bring their whole selves to work, creating an environment of transparency and respect. They also bring a sense of purpose and passion to their work and to the organization as a whole.

Research shows that authentic leadership is a surprisingly strong predictor of an employee's job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and workplace happiness. Therefore, it's crucial for organizations to encourage and promote authentic leadership.

In this article, we'll explore authentic leadership, the authentic leadership theory, and how mentoring is the key to building and maintaining authentic leadership at your organization.

What is authentic leadership?

Authentic leadership is a leadership style that emphasizes honesty, transparency, and authenticity. It ensures that the leader is always acting with integrity and leading in a way that fosters confidence. 

Authentic leaders are true to themselves and their values. At work, they strive to create a culture of trust and openness. Authentic leaders are also not afraid to show vulnerability and are willing to admit when they make mistakes.

They lead by example and are passionate about their work, inspiring others to be their best selves. By exemplifying the values they espouse, authentic leaders can create an environment of mutual respect and trust, making them invaluable in any organization.

What is the authentic leadership theory?

The authentic leadership theory is a model of leadership that emphasizes four key components: 

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Relational transparency
  3. Balanced processing, and
  4. Internalized moral perspective. 

This model encourages leaders to be mindful of their own ethical compass as well as how their decisions and actions impact others.

Let's take a closer look at each of these components.

Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to understand one's own strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. Authentic leaders are self-aware and strive to continually develop their self-awareness. 

They are aware of how their actions and decisions impact others and are willing to seek feedback to improve their leadership skills.

Relational transparency

Relational transparency is the ability to communicate openly and honestly with others. 

Authentic leaders build trust with their employees by being transparent about their decisions, intentions, and emotions. They are willing to share information and provide feedback in a respectful and constructive manner.

Balanced processing

Balanced processing is the ability to consider multiple perspectives before making decisions. 

Authentic leaders are open-minded and willing to listen to different viewpoints. They seek out diverse opinions and are not afraid to challenge their own assumptions.

Internalized moral perspective (aka “doing the right thing”)

Internalized moral perspective is the ability to make decisions based on a strong moral compass. 

Authentic leaders have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and are committed to doing the right thing, even when it's difficult. They are guided by their values and beliefs and are not easily swayed by external pressures.

5 Benefits of authentic leadership

Authentic leadership is a style of leadership focused on creating a positive and transparent environment, where employees are encouraged to do their best work, and everyone in the organization is held accountable for their actions. 

It is based on the principles of mutual trust, respect, and integrity, and can deliver tremendous benefits, including increased productivity, better communication, improved morale, and enhanced collaboration.

Following are the 5 benefits of authentic leadership:

1. Increased employee engagement 

Employees who work for authentic leaders are more engaged because they feel valued and respected. 

Authentic leaders encourage open communication, collaboration, and feedback, which fosters a sense of belonging and shared purpose.

2. Improved productivity 

Authentic leaders prioritize their employees' well-being and work-life balance. When employees feel supported and respected, they are more likely to be productive, efficient, and focused. 

Additionally, authentic leaders are more likely to create a positive work environment that fosters creativity and innovation.

3. Greater employee satisfaction 

Authentic leaders are empathetic and emotionally intelligent, which allows them to understand their employees' needs and concerns. 

When leaders prioritize their employees' well-being and job satisfaction, it creates a positive work culture that fosters loyalty and commitment.

4. Enhanced decision-making 

Authentic leaders make decisions based on their personal values and the best interests of the organization. They are not afraid to take risks, and they are willing to admit when they are wrong. 

This creates a culture of transparency and honesty, which leads to better decision-making at all levels of the organization.

5. Improved retention 

Employees who work for authentic leaders are more likely to stay with the organization long-term because they feel valued and supported. 

Authentic leaders create a positive work culture that fosters growth and development, which encourages employees to stay and contribute to the organization's success.

9 Ways to encourage authentic leadership

The benefits are compelling. It’s no surprise you want to foster a workplace that encourages authentic leadership. 

To do so, organizations should provide opportunities for employees to express their opinions, cultivate an environment of trust, and recognize and reward leaders who promote a positive workplace culture.

Mentoring is a powerful tool for building and maintaining authentic leadership within organizations. Here are some ways to leverage mentoring to promote and encourage authentic leadership:

1. Provide mentoring opportunities

Provide opportunities for employees to connect with mentors who can help them develop their authentic leadership skills. 

Mentors can provide guidance, feedback, and support, which can help employees grow and develop as leaders.

By connecting with mentors, employees gain the confidence to practice skills such as delegation, communication, and decision-making, all of which are essential for effective leadership.

2. Lead by example

Encourage senior leaders to model authentic leadership behaviors, such as transparency, vulnerability, and empathy. When employees see their leaders practicing authentic leadership, it creates a culture of trust and transparency, which encourages others to do the same.

This, in turn, builds a sense of respect and admiration among colleagues, further motivating them to be their best selves and bring their best ideas to the table.

3. Foster a mentoring culture

Create a culture that values mentoring and encourages employees to seek out mentors. 

Provide resources and support for mentors and mentees, such as training and development opportunities, to help them build strong mentoring relationships.

Developing a mentoring program shows that the organization is committed to the success of its employees and is willing to invest in them for the long term.

4. Measure the impact

Measure the impact of mentoring on the development of authentic leadership within the organization. 

Use metrics such as employee engagement, retention, and productivity to evaluate the effectiveness of mentoring programs and make adjustments as needed.

To further assess the success of the mentoring program, survey participants to evaluate the difference in their self-confidence, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills before and after the program.

5. Promote diversity

Authentic leaders recognize the value of diversity and actively seek out diverse perspectives.

Organizations should celebrate diversity and create an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued and respected. 

They should strive to create a work environment where everyone is heard and empowered to contribute regardless of their background.

6. Encourage self-reflection 

Encourage leaders and employees to engage in self-reflection to better understand their personal values, beliefs, and strengths. 

This can be done through coaching, journaling, or mindfulness practices. 

Self-reflection enables leaders and employees to embody their personal values in their interactions and decision-making, leading to more effective and authentic leadership.

7. Offer leadership development programs

Offer leadership development mentoring programs that focus on building authentic leadership skills. These programs can include training on self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and communication, as well as opportunities to practice and receive feedback. 

Such initiatives can help emerging leaders develop qualities that will help them to become successful in their roles.

Here’s the list of companies with leadership development programs to learn from

8. Recognize and reward 

Authentic leadership recognize and reward leaders who demonstrate authentic leadership behaviors, such as transparency, vulnerability, and empathy. 

This can be done through performance evaluations, promotions, or awards.

Leaders who exemplify these qualities should be publicly acknowledged and celebrated, allowing their impact and example to inspire others.

9. Create opportunities for collaboration

Encourage collaboration and teamwork across the organization to build trust and foster authentic relationships. 

Provide opportunities for cross-functional peer learning and encourage leaders and employees to work together to solve problems and achieve common goals.

Bottom line

Authentic leaders understand their personal values, strengths, and their unique value as a leader. Through their authentic leadership style, they achieve their long-term goals and drive long-term success for the organization. 

So, training such future leaders for your company is one of the best ways to get the most out of your biggest asset: your employees. 

By providing meaningful leadership development opportunities, your employees will become more productive, motivated, and engaged in their work. 

With the right training, your employees will become the leaders of tomorrow, allowing your company to reap the rewards of a motivated and dedicated workforce.

We, at Together, have made it easy to build and operate leadership development mentoring programs through one, online intuitive platform. Book a demo today to find out how!

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