Lead Like You Mean It by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

As a leader, thinking about how you lead is important. Often people in leadership roles fall into a pattern of behavior and interactions that are almost automatic, reacting to decisions, demands, and events without taking the time to reflect on how these actions and outcomes are seen by those around them.

By taking the time to be introspective about your leadership style, and why you are doing what you are doing as a leader, you can create an authentic, self-aware and positive leadership role. Leaders that are true to themselves and their own values are consistent, trusted and seen by members of the team and the staff as effective in their role.

The Challenge

One of the challenges with many people that are promoted into leadership positions is their anxiety about sending the right message. A common strategy is to adopt the style of a previous leader in the same position, or a leader that person has worked with, in the past.

This creates a sense of a person playing a role. It is not authentic, and it is not accurate and comfortable for the individual, which can create tension, defensiveness, and inconsistency. The result of this is the individual is seen as fake, false, and insincere, which leads to a higher risk of conflict, lower morale and decreased communication and trust.

The Answer

The answer or the solution to the challenge is for leaders to take the time to be introspective and to get in touch with their values, beliefs, and strengths, but also be aware of where they need to grow, develop or seek assistance.  Walking the walk and talking the talk is all about having your internal idea of your role as a leader matching your outward expression of that role.

Leaders come with all types of positive characteristics, and once they know how to use those positive characteristics, they can connect with people in an authentic way. Trying to mimic or copy how other leaders in the company interacts is never going to be authentic as no two people are the same.

Another important element of being authentic is knowing what you know about yourself, and what you do not know. For example, a leader may think he or she is very clear in communicating goals and objectives, but the team may have difficulties in understanding the message or in getting clarity on what is going to change or be added.

Mindfulness is a buzzword, but it is also an important part of being authentic in leadership. Paying attention to what you are doing and sayings is one thing, but being open to seeing how others are receiving those actions and words is just as important. Being mindful is not always easy, but it’s an important part of staying authentic and effective.