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It’s typically good advice to “be yourself” and “be authentic” when it comes to leading others. Most of us have pretty accurate BS detectors when it comes to sniffing out leadership posers and we don’t necessarily trust people who we perceive are trying to impress us by being someone they’re not.
Unfortunately, for many starting out as leaders, it takes time and experience to develop the confidence necessary to let the world see us as in our leadership skins au naturel.
Early in our careers, we’re preoccupied with finding our way and concerned about not showing our inexperience. We struggle and flail as we look for our leadership voice and our leadership style. Getting there sooner allows an individual to focus on what truly matters…serving others, helping people grow and of course, supporting the organization by catalyzing individual and group achievement.
5 Ideas to Help You Build Confidence and Show Your Authentic Self:
1. Know your role. Make certain that you understand your role is about others and promoting results with and through others and not about you as boss. Let this philosophy guide your behavior.
2. Leverage your mistakes. Your mistakes are visible to all. Instead of hiding them, the point in time when your mistake becomes visible is an opportunity to showcase your authentic self and to teach. Humility supports authenticity.
3. Get over yourself. Accept that it’s good to not have to let everyone know you are the smartest person in the room (even if you are)…but rather, it’s your job to fill the room with smart people. Provide others the opportunity to showcase their skills.
4. Give the people what they want and need. People want opportunity and some want recognition when deserved. Provide ample helpings of both.
5. Publicize your agenda. Talk openly about your own professional development goals and solicit input. It’s hard as the boss to get good feedback, but it’s impossible if you don’t try.
Some never cross the authenticity chasm and they find a way to perpetuate some persona they perceive is optimal for their leadership success. From long observation, these less than authentic leaders tend to be more about themselves and less about their teams and their firms. Some enjoy success in terms of title and trappings, however, I suspect they gain little of the psychic rewards that come from a lifetime of serving as an effective leader. Nonetheless, leadership style is a personal choice.
Since trust is a prerequisite for leadership success, if you’re the one in charge, acting anything but authentically is risky business. Of course, if the authentic you doesn’t garner respect and earn trust, that’s another issue altogether.
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An ideal book for anyone starting our in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.
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