The ability to be genuine and sincere.
WHAT IS IT?
Authenticity is the opposite of being pretentious or fake. It is an acceptance of self and comfort with allowing others to see who we are. An authentic person is able to admit when they don’t have all the answers.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Authenticity is the hallmark of a mature and capable leader. An authentic and humble leader is confident in his/her personal accomplishments and therefore able to share credit with others. In his or her pursuit of self-improvement and learning, the humble leader is also willing to admit fault. Both of these actions can improve team morale, increase buy-in from others, and strengthen the unity of any organization. Authenticity is a truly disarming trait. It has the power to calm escalating conflict, drive team performance, and create meaningful change.
- Encourage and Appreciate
One way to identify an authentic leader is by his or her ability to give genuine and meaningful affirmation. This often takes the form of gratitude, praise, or recognition. Consider those around you, and think of some words of affirmation that speak positively of that person’s character or ability.
- Receive Feedback Mindfully
Receiving positive or negative feedback gracefully is difficult, and both require great humility. Focus on responding to criticism patiently, politely, and with an open mind. When we fail to practice humility in this arena, we typically come across as arrogant and cheat ourselves out of an opportunity for self-improvement. Receiving positive feedback with humility is an equally important skill. Practice gratitude for positive feedback and avoid deflecting or minimizing positive feedback from others.
- Cultivate a Healthy Sense of Self
Finally, the most authentic people show understanding and contentment with themselves. Being comfortable in one’s own skin allows the authentic leader to distribute praise to others and receive both positive and negative feedback with grace. Contemplate your own strengths and weaknesses, and do your best to come to terms with them. To help cultivate a developed and positive sense of self, find a trusted friend or colleague and practice the previous two steps for improvement. Give encouragement and feedback, and then practice receiving feedback. Perhaps even give feedback on how you both received those words from each other (yes, feedback on feedback).