True Leadership = True to Yourself

Leadership is all about being yourself and demonstrating personal authenticity rather than learning some formula from a text book. Aspiring leaders therefore need to be true to themselves. Real leaders are also open and willing to reveal their weaknesses. There is often a misconception that those in leadership roles need to be stronger and/or more superior than those under them. Obviously they do have to be well educated and competent in their field in order to lead the organization in the right direction in regards to its production. However, as far as human nature is concerned, those holding leadership roles are affected just as much as anybody else. When one is able to admit his/her vulnerabilities/ weaknesses as a human being, this resonates with others confirming that the leader is a person first and foremost and not merely a “role-holder”.

As leaders, when we reveal our true selves, it can allow others to feel more comfortable and makes us more likable. This can result in increased organizational motivation to help each other out and not want to let each other down. This what true teamwork is a about. True leadership is therefore much more than a demonstration of strengths. Real leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and use them in ways to create a healthy, comfortable working environment with team driven objectives.

Good leaders always rely on their ability to read situations. They develop a feel for an environment, and interpret soft data without having to be told. They know when team morale is patchy or when complacency needs shaking up. There are three levels of situational sensitivity, each of which has its own specific skills:

Effective leaders are continually learning about the motives, attributes and skills of their important subordinates. They get to know their people through formal and, often better, informal contact such as when traveling together and/or team events.

Effective leaders read their teams as a whole. They analyze the compound balance between team members, the tension between the tasks and processes, and how the team builds its competencies.

Finally, they are concerned with defining the cultural characteristics of their organizations and keep their finger on the pulse of the organization’s climate.

It sounds cliché to say that leaders need to care for their people. Ever noticed the skepticism in the workforce upon seeing a manager return from a people-skills training course with new, sudden concern for others? This can create a negative feeling amongst one’s following because they sense that the concern isn’t really and will likely be short lived. The bottom line is, genuine concern is difficult to display because it always involves some personal risk. Genuine care means putting others interest before your own and doing whatever it takes for the benefit of your followers. This is a rare commodity that is much easier said than done. The bottom line is, no leader really knows how they will react to these types of situations unless then experience them for themselves. Until those times come, just remember to be genuine and true to yourself. You are in this leadership role for a reason. Trust what got your there and never forget that your weaknesses are not a detriment, but rather an opportunity to connect to your followers and increase organizational moral. Being true to yourself is the same as being true to your followers. The result is true leadership.

Published by Zachary Paul Hoffman

I am a former professional athlete, tri-lingual, Italian/American duel-citizen and aspiring modern-day leadership development expert.

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