New theories and thoughts on leadership are still emerging, with no real consensus. Here I will explore Authentic Leadership.
Bill George (Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value and True North:Discover your Authentic Leadership) advocates that being true to yourself is crucial for effective leadership. Being true to yourself means not trying to model or copy a leader that you know.
However, this does not mean just being yourself and that's it. You have to be yourself on a good day - not on a bad day! The authentic leader works on being themself on good days so that they are operating at their best more of the time.
Being yourself though does not mean ignoring your weaknesses. The autentic leader becomes aware of their weaknesses and works to minimise them.
Purpose: Have a real purpose - this does not include being a leader because you want to be in charge.
Values: This is your moral compass which is shaped by personal beliefs, consultation, introspection. Practice your values.
Relationships: Build trust and commitment through openness and strong working relationships.
Self-discipline: Follow-through consistently. Manage your thoughts, emotions, behaviours, your energy.
Heart: Establish genuine emotional connection that will inspire your team to follow you. Connect above and below the neck! Lead with your heart and your head.
Management is the achievement of results through people. Authentic leadership helps you to achieve this. At the end of the day you need willing followers more than your team need you.
Develop trust. Trust is the primary virtue that followers say that they want in leaders. See yourself clearly. Increase trust leads to:
Fiona Beddoes-Jones (Authentic Leadership 360) says that the authentic leader displays high levels of self-awareness, which is an understanding of our own:
She says that the degree of the leader's self-awareness seems to be a good predictor of the strength of their relationship with others.
The authentic leader has also developed strong self-management or self-regualtion. This includes:
Beddoes-Jones also discusses the role of ethics:
All of these behaviours build trust. Trust builds relationships.
Start on a process of honest self-reflection to deepen your self-awarness. Be committed to developing yourself.
I believe that a title
does not make you a leader. You are only a leader if you have
followers. And, followers who choose to follow you rather than those
who are forced to follow through fear of retribution or lack of choice.
Leadership is a process. True leadership elicits followers from your
team. To create followers your team needs to buy into your message,
your vision. Everything that you do and say (your behaviours) play an
important role here. It requires Adult-Adult Communication - and
leadership does have as its cornerstone the ability to communicate
I do think that a lot of leadeship theories and models are very relevant: Situational Leadership; Adairs Action Centred Leadership; Behavioural Theories. Leaders do need to modify their style and approach based on the situation and the people. Leaders do need to recognise that tasks will not be achieved as effectively as possible if they do not work with the needs of individuals and teams.
To address people needs you do not have to forget about the task and likewise to achieve the task does not require that you forget about the person. Authentic Leadership offers futher thinking into the behaviours required for effective leadership.
Here is a link to Harvard Business Review Magazine where there is an interesting article "Discovering your Authentic Leadersing".