Since the first time I became a leader, authenticity has been my guiding principle. Being promoted within the organization and finding myself supervising former peers, I naturally embraced authenticity as my leadership style. Let’s talk about the essence of authentic leadership, why it matters, and how it can transform your effectiveness as a leader.

Authentic leadership is about being true to yourself, without putting on a facade or taking on a persona of who you think you should be. It’s liberating to lead authentically because you are not pretending to be someone you’re. People crave authenticity; they want leaders they can relate to, not someone who’s playing a role for the moment. Being authentic doesn’t mean blurting out whatever comes to mind; it’s about being mindful of your thoughts, words, and actions. Authentic leaders embody characteristics like integrity, emotional intelligence, and a commitment to their mission and goals, rather than focusing solely on short-term solutions or the bottom line.

Authentic leadership fosters trust, enhances relationships, and boosts productivity and engagement among team members. Studies have shown that this leadership style leads to long-term success, creating a positive organizational culture that supports sustainable growth and innovation.

For women leaders, authenticity is especially crucial. In a world where women often juggle multiple roles and expectations, being true to oneself is a precious gift. However, being authentic as a woman leader comes with its considerations, including navigating gender stereotypes and biases. Let’s be honest. Women leaders have to be more aware than men and often have to balance what may be seen as being emotional versus being cold, being assertive versus being bitchy, and more. When the woman is a person of color, that is accompanied by a whole other layer of considerations. Ever heard of “angry Black woman”? Despite these challenges, embracing authenticity allows women leaders to lead with integrity and make a meaningful impact. Let’s look at some ways to tap into the authenticity.

1. Take the time to reflect on what you value most, your unique strengths that you bring to the table, and how your leadership style affects those around you. You want to understand your core values because they guide your actions and decisions. Similarly, knowing your strengths allows you to leverage them to achieve your goals. Lastly, understanding the impact of your leadership style is crucial as it contributes to the work environment and influences team members.

2. Establish a foundation of trust among team members through a commitment to effective communication and demonstrating vulnerability. Regular and open communication helps to foster an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. When leaders show vulnerability, it demonstrates a level of authenticity that encourages others to do the same, resulting in improved relationship-building and a stronger team dynamic.

3. It is important to lead by example by ensuring that your actions are consistently aligned with your core values. Leading by example aids in maintaining a high level of integrity but also inspires others to emulate these values.

4. Seek out and welcome feedback from various people within the organization. This includes not just your superiors, but also those who report to you and your peers. Regularly seeking such feedback can lead to continuous improvement and personal growth, and it fosters a culture of open communication within the organization.

5. Invest time and resources into mentorship, coaching, and professional development opportunities. Engaging with other experienced professionals in different capacities can enhance skills, capabilities, and personal growth. Yes, I am little biased when it comes to coaching, but that is only because it works and I enjoy it.

Challenges to authentic leadership are a real thing, but they can be overcome with some self-awareness and checking in. Critics argue that authenticity limits growth or clashes with organizational norms, but mindfulness and adaptation can counteract these challenges. When facing setbacks, reevaluate your strategies and stay true to your authentic self.

So, here is your call to action. Define what authenticity means to you and commit to leading with integrity and purpose. Embrace your unique strengths and values, and encourage others to do the same. Together, we can create a world where authenticity is celebrated and valued in leadership.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde