Be A More Human, Authentic Leader

30 May 2023

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​If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the world can change instantaneously and without warning. For the first time, the traditional ways of working were severely disrupted, and leaders became the central focus to answer the infamous question, “What’s next?” Leaders had never been put in such a position before. Throughout history, yes, significant events had taken place, but nothing as disruptive and unknown as the infamous Covid-19. Most held out hope that the vaccine was the magic wand that would course-correct everything, and what once was disrupted and displaced would soon go back to "normal." Fast forward, it’s clear that this "new normal" is here to stay, and the organizations and leadership that went beyond the surface level to answer the question of what’s next have come out on top. I can assure you the answer did not lie in extra snacks in the breakroom or an extension of casual Fridays. Above anything else, employees desire authentic leadership.

Organizations that recognized and acted upon this shift in leadership began to pull ahead of the pack and potentially avoided the viral phases of the pandemic including, "the Great Resignation" and "Quiet Quitting." So what makes an authentic leader?

Humanizing Leadership

The current workforce demands emphatic, self-aware and mindful leaders. Employees want to know that their leader possesses these qualities and, moreover, the desire to continue to flex these muscles. Humanizing leadership requires that as a leader, you recognize the importance of how you’re perceived by others, how you show up for work, your team and, most importantly, for you. These social competencies have the ability to transform the way in which you lead and ultimately drive team satisfaction and propel business results.

Recognizing The Individual As A Whole

Gone are the days when the saying “leave your emotions at the door” is relevant in today’s workforce. Employees and leaders alike have real lives outside of work, which can be messy, imperfect and emotionally taxing. To believe that employees can somehow "shut off" their feelings the moment they step into the workplace, or virtually boot up their PC, is unrealistic. However, the needs of the business persist.

This is where authentic leadership shines. Leaders who have honed this craft are able to address the needs of their team, have meaningful and empathetic conversations and craft viable solutions. They understand the bigger picture without sacrificing the needs and feelings of those who report to them. In turn, similar to engagement correlation, these employees are left feeling invested in, resulting in higher satisfaction and productivity.

Reimagining Leadership

Leadership is less about authority and power and more about setting an example and pouring genuine time and care into those whom we lead. For those who are accustomed to the "my way or the highway" mentality, this can be a difficult pill to swallow. To continue to permeate authenticity throughout the organization, it’s vital that current leaders mentor and encourage others in this area. It’s important to recognize that this way of leading is new, and still not mainstream. As a result, it can take a rather heavy lift before you see a shift or feel it across the organization, but as momentum picks up, the fruits of this labor can be that much sweeter.

Take a moment to reflect on someone whom you felt was a great leader. What qualities did they possess? How did they make you feel when you were around them? Great leaders often tend to challenge the status quo—in fact, it’s what sets them apart. They desire meaningful change while ensuring the needs of the business are met. As unfortunate as the pandemic was, it prompted a refreshing pause in the workforce—a chance to redesign the way of work and, most importantly, the way of leadership.