The importance of authentic leadership

For leaders, it’s fine balancing act between saying enough but not too much in order to be perceived by your team and peers that you’re the ‘real deal’.

For Carol Gill, Assistant Professor in Organisation Behaviour at Melbourne Business School, the key to being a successful leader is to be authentic.

“Remember if you are authentic, you will be held accountable by people who hear your authenticity.
So, if you take a position you will be held accountable for that. If you fall short, if you don’t explain it carefully to people, you will be less trusted than someone who is inauthentic.”

Carol said authentic leadership had a “massive” impact on the response and behaviour of employees.
“Employees will identify with authentic leaders and be more likely to do what the authentic leader says they should do, which is a good thing because the leader is ethical,” Carol said.

Carol said there were four key elements to authentic leadership, broadly defined as a leadership based on self-awareness and core values.

Authentic Leaders are self-aware; transparent – they say they are going to do something and are clear about their intentions; have behaviour integrity – “I walk my talk” and use the method ‘balance processing’, where they are prepared to listen to a range of different views before coming to a decision.

Self-awareness and mindfulness are good places to start to try and develop the tools to become a more authentic leader.

“Being mindful of who we are, self-aware, and staying that way, is important as people grow and change as human beings,” she said.

“I like to say to students ‘say what you mean, mean what you say but don’t say it meanly’.
Her recent academic research has focused on leading change authentically and influences on follower responses.

She said her research indicated authentic leadership also had a positive impact on human resources practices, making them much more effective.

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