Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership: What Does It Look Like?

Authentic leadership begins with a leader’s awareness that allows them to form meaningful relationships. These relationships allow a leader to both inspire and encourage colleagues in the right ways. An atmosphere of openness is also essential. One of the core qualities of genuine leadership is authenticity. Because without actually being authentic, any leader will fail to appear as if they are. Authentic leadership requires leaders to be self-aware and have the ability to recognize and acknowledge their personal strengths and weaknesses.

Authentic Leadership

Qualities of Authentic Leadership

Authentic leadership encompasses a number of characteristics. However, it is important to first consider the qualities that go with this style of leadership. First off, an authentic leader is both sincere and self-aware. They know themselves, know what they are worth and know their limitations. Through showing their true nature, they are rewarded with respect from those around them. Secondly, an authentic leader is downright selfless. Achieving goals is a shared result, not something for leaders to boast about as an individual.

Authentic leaders don’t go for power, money, or to pad their ego. Instead, authentic leaders put the interests of their organization first. They do, however, focus on the big picture. They do so by keeping their organization on track and making course adjustments as needed. Authentic leaders do not fear showing their vulnerabilities, nor their feelings. This human element helps them create a connection with their employees. However, this certainly does not mean that they’re pushovers in any way, shape, or form. It’s all about empathy without giving up rationality.

Authentic leaders are reliable and trustworthy, which are two of the main reasons why their peers respect them. They take responsibility and expect their colleagues to do the same. They listen to their own intuition and voice their opinions based on their observations.

Authentic Leadership Characteristics

Authentic leaders also exhibit characteristics via their behavior in addition to their qualities. The most distinct characteristics of authentic leaders include the following:


In addition to being self-aware and knowing their strengths and weaknesses, authentic leaders are also transparent. They encourage open communication and are willing to engage in conversations pertaining to successes as well as failures. Furthermore, authentic leaders do not keep a secret list of observations. Instead, they call people on it when their behavior is less than desirable.


Authentic leaders manage private and confidential matters with integrity. They also never betray said confidence. This most always leads to gaining the respect of their peers.


Leaders of the authentic nature are flat out consistent – those around them know what they can expect from their leadership. They’re also a constant factor within their organization and frequently help to inspire others.


Authentic leaders are great listeners. They show sincere interest in other people and their opinions and ideas. They encourage open communication and want to form a genuine bond with their employees.



It’s important for authentic leaders to have a clear vision and mission. The long-term goals should be clear for everyone in the organization.


Authentic leaders encourage others and are able to help them rise to a higher level. This helps employee confidence. They share successful results with their people to inspire and motivate them.

Authentic Leadership Strategies

In practice, most workers don’t need a whole lot of time to know the type of leader that they’re dealing with. That being said, authentic leaders are typically appreciated since their colleagues can rely on them and don’t have to worry about surprises. It’s important for authentic leaders to hold onto their core values and be aware that their employees may have different or even opposing views, motivations, and goals.

Leadership Strategies

Here again, it’s important to keep communication channels open and involve everyone in the organization’s vision and goals. Authenticity is part of every leader’s personality. However, there are strategies that can help less experienced leaders in the right direction. Furthermore, it should be noted that the individual employing this leadership style should be both genuine and sincere about it. If it’s just an act, it won’t have anything to do with authenticity.

The following strategies can help employ the authentic style of leadership:

Listen & Share

Proper listening is the foundation for a strong relationship with employees and stakeholders.  In addition to listening, it is important to let people bounce ideas off of you and consider the opinions of other people. By sharing ideas, information, suggestions, and opinions with each other on a regular basis, employees will be better able to express themselves freely and be open with one another.


A well-principled attitude whos that the leader sticks to decisions they made previously. Aside from the fact that they sometimes have to make decisions that are less than popular, this will make authentic leaders reliable. Unless there’s a good and clear reason to do so, reversing a previous decision will do nothing but hurt their credibility.


It’s a breeze to be critical. However, the key is how you do it. It’s important that criticism is given in a constructive and amicable fashion. The person receiving the feedback shouldn’t be struggling with it emotionally afterward. Sensitive topics always need to be handled with integrity and in a constructive way; preferably face-to-face.


It goes without saying that each day and every situation are different and unique. This means that goals need to be adjusted regularly. For the sake of the company’s mission and vision, it’s better if the authentic leader stays true to a realistic goal that has been established in advance. It’s only acceptable to stry from this if there are good and tangible reasons to do so. Focusing on the end goal makes the leader self-aware and effective.

Realistic Leadership
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Delegating means handing over control and learning to rely on others. The most common mistake in this respect is looking over employees’ shoulders and correcting them. Delegating is also part of authentic leadership and offers the option to rely on the knowledge and skills of one’s colleagues.

Authentic Leadership Tips

Less experienced leaders can take these strategies as advice. In addition to this, it would be wise to reflect on their own teachers and use a former superior as a role model for leadership. Authentic leaders display behaviors that can serve as an example to others. It can even be the kind of behavior that isn’t considered positive. In fact, negative examples are often more meaningful than positive examples. Avoiding this type of behavior can also be something to consider for one’s own actions. Sparring with other exemplary leaders can provide insight into authentic interactions with your employees.

Closing Thoughts on Authentic Leadership

Well…what do you think? What sort of experience do you have with authentic leadership? Do you recognize the real-world explanation or do you have more to add? What are your success factors for encouraging and supporting your employees to attain their goals?

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