Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Increasing your authenticity, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
If you think about what it means to project to others that you are a leader, you think of projecting competence and confidence. These are great characteristics. You project confidence through your words and all of your non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact and tone of voice. You project competence, ultimately, through the work outcomes you produce. However, it's vital you understand that most successful leaders, that is the ones who create the strongest teams, are not merely confident and competent. They are also real, raw, somewhat unfiltered, what many refer to as authentic.
To be authentic means to be open, to show your humanity, to maintain flexibility, to be humble, and to always model the way. These are the characteristics that allow your confidence and competence to have maximum impact. I'll admit that some view these behaviors as slightly risky, as if they somehow indicate a lack of strength. That's not accurate. In fact, it's just the opposite. So, let's briefly consider each behavior. To begin, remember to remain open as a decision-maker.
Recall the three major approaches to decision-making: Autocratic, Collaborative, and Democratic. Autocratic is one-way, you are giving directions. Collaborative is a two-way dialogue, you receive input and then make the call. Finally, democratic is purely driven by the employees, not you. The point here is simple but powerful. Compared to the typical professional, an authentic leader is more careful to err on liberal use of the collaborative approach and to a lesser extent, a democratic approach. The authentic leader also understands what it means to be human.
Here, I'm referring to those things about us that indicate ways we are all imperfect. In order for your team to see you as a complete human, they need to know more about you than all of your successes. Think of your past professional mistakes, failures, and learning moments. A few times each year, find an appropriate time to share one or more of those with the team. This will make everyone on the team see you as more real. It also makes them more willing to engage the process of professional growth.
An authentic leader is also flexible. Just because you have the authority to make decisions, doesn't mean you always have to be right. Most of the time, you will find it advantageous to stick to your guns when you make a decision. However, it's very useful a minority of the time, to relinquish your position and allow others to speak up. When done only on occasion, this helps you be seen as fair and reasonable as a teammate, just as much as a competent boss. Next, let's consider the issue of humility.
Humility refers to an aspect of intelligence which keeps us from thinking too highly or too often about ourselves. It helps us maintain a bit of modesty by keeping us focused on how much we have yet to learn. You can be very bright and very accomplished, but without humility, you risk being viewed as arrogant or conceited. You can demonstrate humility by asking questions to reveal to others what you don't yet know. Another way to show humility is by promoting your employees to others more than you promote yourself.
Finally, you can demonstrate humility by looking for opportunities to share authority even when you don't have to. Here's one last characteristic of an authentic leader. They consistently model the way. They do not merely espouse useful standards of behavior or performance, they demonstrate them effectively everyday. Consistently matching your behaviors to your values and standards makes you real and human. Confidence and competence are great, but the best leaders are truly authentic.
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- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.