The Path to Authenticity: Examples of Authentic Leadership
While our culture often steers us toward an unattainable image, there seems to be an underlying search for authenticity – in our relationships, our experiences, and even our leadership. How do we get there? How do we remain true to ourselves at the height of our career? How do we lead from a place of authenticity? Spoiler: It starts with a fundamental understanding of self.
Authentic Leaders Stay Relentlessly True to Themselves
Leadership is a global aspiration, but it often stems from less than honorable intentions. Whether it be power, status, money, control, esteem, or even love, when leadership is pursued for the wrong reasons, you do whatever you have to in order to attain it. You become whomever you need to be. Rarely is it the authentic you. But how long can you play the role of leader when it’s a fictional performance?
Authentic leadership is different. In fact, most well-known examples of authentic leaders agree: It’s identifying and committing to your innate leadership gifts, beliefs, and capacity – not someone else’s opinion of who you should be. It’s relentlessly staying true to yourself while serving others as leader. It’s seeking the authentic gifts in others, and leading them to become authentic leaders themselves. Is it effortless? Of course not, but nothing worth having ever comes easily.
Authentic Leaders Know Their Strengths
How do you identify your innate leadership gifts? Start by shedding the image of a hard-charging, aggressive leader, and pause for introspection. This won’t happen by default; rather, you must schedule time on your calendar to make it happen. Block an hour (at minimum) within the next two weeks to consider the authentic you and the role of authenticity in your leadership.
Additionally, seek out examples of authentic leaders from whom you can learn. At Biltmore, we look to Ann Ashley, Vice President of Talent & Professional Development with The Biltmore Company as a shining example of an authentic leader. Ann often says, “In order to understand and lead from a place of authenticity, we must be willing to learn who we are and what we bring to the table, not what others expect of us.”
Authentic Leaders Understand Their Core Values
As an authentic leader, it’s important to understand your fundamental drivers. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is most important to you (the real you)?
- How do those values show-up in your daily life? Do you embrace and leverage them, or push them aside when you feel they no longer align with a particular situation you find yourself in?
- Ask a trusted colleague to share their impression of your values – does that impression represent the real you or the façade you’ve created for yourself? Do a check each afternoon by asking yourself how you welcomed your values that day, and when you perhaps ignored a core truth.
It takes time and dedication to discover your unshakable truths, but when you do, the results are astounding. Start with self-leadership, and authenticity will be a given.
We know that setting aside time for professional development can be challenging. Allow us to make it easier for you with a rejuvenating trip to Biltmore Estate! We invite you to Asheville, NC for our upcoming Authentic Leadership workshop where you'll enjoy the beauty of the mountains, interactive learning, and fine dining, and leave with an action plan for your personal development.
Chris Maslin is Senior Director for Talent and Organizational Development at Biltmore, and also serves as a program facilitator for Biltmore Center for Professional Development. With a passion for servant-leadership, Chris guides numerous organizations in transforming their customer experiences and developing leaders.