The 4 Components of Authentic Leadership

It goes without saying that being yourself is a lot easier than being someone you aren’t. However, when pressure rises, the stakes of decisions increase, and there is a surefire judgment from others; being authentic becomes infinitely more difficult for leaders. Those leaders who can be authentic in the face of adversity stand out above the rest. 

Those leaders who are authentic in the face of adversity stand out above the rest. 

In my work studying and coaching leaders, authenticity is one of the most essential leadership skills that doesn’t get discussed enough. To take it a step further, too many leaders are trying to be something or someone they aren’t, and their team knows it.  

Too many leaders are trying to be something or someone they aren’t, and their team knows it. 

What is Authenticity as a Leadership Skill?

In the SkillsLoft assessment, we define authenticity as being transparent, genuine, and honest. Living according to your beliefs and values. It comes of Greek origin that means genuine. 

Brene Brown said, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Not only are Brown’s words wise, but I would add to them. “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are and who we are trying to become.” If more leaders started with the mindset that the truth about who they are and what they are about will eventually come out, they would be themselves much earlier in their journey. 

In the end, the truth comes out; you might as well be your authentic self from the start. 

People follow people, not titles. Being an authentic leader who shares truth, passions, and even shortcomings will have people following you and not the other way around.  

Components of Authentic Leadership 

Transforming yourself from an inauthentic leader to an authentic leader isn’t easy. However, big changes always start small. There is a simple model that we coach professionals to use to determine if their authentic self is showing up in their leadership. It includes four components. 

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1. What You Stand For

If you go back to the definition of authenticity, “Being transparent, genuine, and honest. Living according to your beliefs and values.” I want to focus on two elements: our beliefs and values.  

Knowing your beliefs is critical because your beliefs become your behaviors. Napoleon Hill used to say, “whatever the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve.” Your core values are the fundamental beliefs you hold to be true. For example, in our Catalyst for Growth Program, one of the first personal development exercises professionals complete is putting definitions around their beliefs and core values. It never ceases to amaze me how many people haven’t put the effort to define them. 

2. How You Show Up

The two elements of authenticity relating to how you show up are self-awareness and vulnerability. If you have ever worked for or with a narcissistic leader, you know about someone who lacks self-awareness. Being self-aware is a skill, and it’s developed through being in vulnerable positions that expose the truth.  

Being self-aware is a skill, and it’s developed through being in vulnerable positions that expose the truth.  

Exercises like a leadership 360 °can be an excellent way to increase self-awareness and demonstrate vulnerability to team members.  

3. When You’re At Your Best

It’s difficult to be authentic if your current role doesn’t allow you to be at your best. I am amazed at how many professionals do jobs for years that they aren’t good at and don’t like. The two elements to consider around this are your skills and passions.  

There are phenomenal resources and assessments out there for leaders to explore their strengths and weaknesses as it relates to their leadership skills and passions. For example, Patrick Lencioni and his team at the Table Group did some excellent work and research with the Six Types of Working Genius.  

4. What You Want to Become

The most overlooked element of authenticity is not considering who you want to become. Dr. Suess wrote it beautifully, “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” Every person is a work in progress, and showing up authentically should express how you are adapting as a person and continuing to have a growth mindset. 

Nothing is wrong with changing your mind when you learn something new. In fact, it’s inauthentic to be unwilling to learn, grow, and develop into a better version of yourself over time.  

Closing 

There isn’t a magic pill to start showing up as a more authentic leader and professional. However, having the courage to define what you stand for, know how you show up, realize when you’re at your best, and define what you want to become, is a fantastic place to start.

How important is it to you for leaders to show up authentically? Tell me in the comments how you determine if a leader is authentic.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How the Best Leaders Reduce Turnover in Key Employees

Inbound Marketing, Lead Magnet, Customer Attraction and Retention, B2B Concept

There is this common belief that every high-performing employee is looking for a different job. It’s almost as if a cloud of panic and worry has set in about the “great resignation.” It’s gotten so bad that the #1 concern of CEOs has become “hiring enough of the right people.”

While it’s undoubtedly true the quit rate for professionals is at its highest point since the U.S. Bureau of Labor started tracking the statistic in 2000, it doesn’t mean every employee is on the brink of quitting. 

In fact, if organizations put as much effort into retention as they do in recruiting they would be in a much better position. This is why the best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.  

The best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.

In a recent episode of the At the Table Podcast, Pat Lencioni said it well, “It’s never been more important to have a healthy organization and good culture because, for the shortage of people, the good ones are going to stay at the right places.” Not only is Lencioni right, but he also exposes the truth about how essential outstanding leadership is to retention.  

Great leaders put more effort into retention than they do in recruiting.

Prioritizing Retention Improves Recruiting

Recruiting talented people to join a team or organization will always be critical to long-term success. However, something phenomenal happens when leaders prioritize retention over recruiting. I refer to it as the “Retainment Cycle.” Here is how it works:

Great Culture + Engaged Employees + Optimum Results = Attracts Talent

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Are you looking for ways to prioritize retention with your employees? Here are some great places to start. 

1. Make Retention Everyone’s Responsibility 

It’s tempting to believe that retention is only a manager’s responsibility, but that wouldn’t be true. While front-line managers play the biggest role in the retention of an employee, retention is everyone’s responsibility. I shared some ideas in a recent interview here:

2. Share Common Values and Purpose

Money is easily the most popular incentivizing tool organizations use to retain and recruit employees. While pay is significant, it’s not the most important. People give their best effort when on a team that shares values and purpose. 

People give their best effort on a team that shares values and purpose. 

A consistent and systematic approach to aligning core values and communicating the deeper purpose behind the work is imperative. There is nothing worse than defining and talking about core values yet leaders are not demonstrating them. Leaders are the primary driver of core values, so they must embody them correctly. 

3. Coach and Train Like Crazy

People stay longer when they feel invested in and cared for. As Sir Richard Branson famously said, “train them well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

One way to train and care for employees is to have managers who act as a coach. A coach, by definition, trains, and instructs. In the Coaching for Excellence, I define coaching this way:

Coaching is improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence.

Organizations that create a coaching culture outperform their competitors and maintain an upward trend in human capital development. 

Closing

Making retention everyone’s responsibility, sharing common values & purpose, and coaching like crazy are just a few of the critical things leaders can do to priorities retention over recruiting. Other best practices include:

  • Engagement surveys
  • Training Programs
  • Executive Communication
  • Mentorship Programs
  • Rewards and Recognitions Programs

The key is to find what works best for your organization and go all-in on executing it relentlessly every day.  

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About the Author, John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

5 Modern Leadership Styles: Which One Are You?

Young Businesswoman Standing And Leading Office Meeting Around Table

Real frustration had set in. My team wasn’t meeting my expectations. I felt like we were in quicksand and the more we struggled, the deeper we sank.

Under pressure, I did what most inexperienced leaders do – I made the decision cut someone from the team.

During the big conversation with this team member, it was beyond evident that the problem wasn’t her; I was the problem. I was living proof of Jocko Willink’s famous words:

“There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”―Jocko Willink

At that moment, I decided to not only make major changes in myself but to do everything in my power to help others avoid making the same mistakes. This one moment sparked my relentless commitment to learning, growing, and teaching.

It was then that I set off on a six-year journey to uncover what the best leaders do differently. Through hundreds of interviews, thousands of assessments, and a lot of trial and error I have uncovered what the most effective leaders do differently. In short, it’s their ability to elevate others by using high levels of love and discipline.

Love and discipline are words that can be ambiguous, so here are definitions that apply to the workplace:

Love (verb): to contribute to someone’s long term success and well-being.

Discipline (verb): to promote standards in order for an individual to choose to be at their best.

Leadership and Change Management expert Patrick Lencioni said something to me in an interview on the Follow My Lead Podcast that blended the two terms so well:

“Holding people accountable for their behavior is an act of love.”

In our research of organizational leaders, five clear-cut leadership styles emerged. Each style related to how well a person leverages love and discipline when leading others. While these are current styles of leading, they are not meant to be definitive.

1. Manage

People whose current leadership style is to manage others are often leaders by title alone. They push people along instead of pulling them up. They focus more on themselves than on the people they are supposed to be leading. Because of that, people work for them rather than follow them.

  • Scores low in areas of love and discipline
  • Focuses solely on execution
  • Lacks great relationships with team members
  • Directs rather than coaches
  • Looks at the position as one of power and authority

2. Please

People whose current leadership style is to please others are generally not comfortable being in a position of authority. They love people and their job, but they expressly avoid having conflict with team members. They tend to give people too many chances and are often naive about the realities of what is going on around them. Their team members like them as people, but there is a lack of respect for them in a professional capacity. A person with this style:

  • Scores high in love, low in discipline
  • Gets taken advantage of by his or her direct reports
  • Is often passed over for promotions
  • Gets stuck in low levels of organizational leadership for long periods of time
  • Treats everyone equally regardless of talent levels
  • Leads a team that tends to underperform

3. Rule

People whose current leadership style is to rule others take their position extremely seriously. They value their authority and regulations above relationships with people. The thought of not having control or not being the centralized decision-maker makes them uncomfortable. To ensure this does not happen often, leaders who rule others create processes and environments that funnel decision making to them in almost all matters. They tend to come across as heartless because of their reliance on the way things “must” be done. 

  • Scores high in discipline, low in love
  • Driven by a set rule-book
  • Typically gets good or bad results quickly
  • Creates process before it’s needed
  • Has “favorite” team members

4. Support

People whose current leadership style is to support others are good, not great, leaders. The most popular style to fall into, 47 percent of all leaders from our research currently lead this way. They often have good relationships with their team members and achieve business goals and objectives. They struggle, however, with reaching the next level of success as a leader.

  • Score middle of the road on discipline and love
  • Leverages both love and discipline just not always enough
  • Team gets good results
  • Has great relationships with some and average to below-average relationships with others

5. Elevate

People whose current leadership style is to elevate others simultaneously use high levels of love and discipline. They constantly exceed goals and objectives, have deep relationships with team members, and make a positive impact on the lives of those they lead. 

  • Scores high in discipline and love
  • Has deep relationships based on mutual respect
  • Leads a team that consistently exceeds goals
  • Helps create more leaders
  • Often looked at as a mentor and role model

Before you make an assumption about your leadership style, it’s important to note that these aren’t personality profiles. These leadership styles are meant to serve as a mirror you can hold up to see how you’re currently leading. Just because your current leadership style is to rule or elevate today doesn’t mean you’re stuck with that style for life.

If you’re ready to take action, get my new book, Building the BestIn it, I share 8 principles, that when applied will elevate the way you lead and take your team’s performance to higher levels of success.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

Preorder the Book: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is being published by McGraw-Hill and is due out on November 15th. Preorder today and receive over $200 in gifts including the first two chapters immediately, Acts of Accountability Online Course, and a live webinar taught by John.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

9 Great Leadership Lessons Learned in 2017

With another year coming to an end, it’s a great best practice to look back on the previous year to learn and grow before heading into the new year. That’s exactly what our team did with 52 episodes of the Follow My Lead Podcast.

Regardless if you listened to every episode (kudos) or you didn’t listen to a single one (boooo) here are 9 of the best leadership lessons we learned.

Listen to the full episode here or on iTunes.

1. A person who is humble, hungry, and smart adds value to a team in any environment – Pat Lencioni

2. Great leaders believe in their people and hold them to a high standard – Jon Gordon

3. Values are developed by what you reward, recognize and talk about- Howard Behar

4. The single greatest people skill is an authentic interest in another person Bob Burg

5. Leaders create the culture that drives behavior which produces the results- Brian Kight

6. Build a company you truly want to work for one that loves and serves people – Casey Crawford

7. Make decisions to become the person you aspire to be- Jimmy Collins

8. Transfer belief to your kids every day “You are going to do great and mighty things” – Bob Beaudine

9. Great leaders want decisions to be made where the information is – David Marquet

About the Author John Eades is one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace. He is the CEO of LearnLoft, host of the Follow My Lead Podcast and author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader. He has set aside 20 speaking opportunities in 2018 and there are only a few spots remaining, learn more here.