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4 Keys To Remaining Authentic In Leadership


Written by: Louise Parker, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Leadership theory has for decades been researched and continually strived to keep improving our approach to leadership to enable a leadership that truly values people to produce the best outcomes for the organisation, business, and teams.

A business woman facing forward with executives in the background outside of a building.

Authentic leadership remains a relatively new concept and places the importance of a leader having a true understanding of their personal core values and remaining true to these values in order to develop open and honest relationships with their teams and colleagues.

The longstanding leader will know that having a toolbox of leadership styles is important to lead staff across a myriad of situations to fully enable the team to achieve its best outcomes, but how do we remain authentic as part of this process?

In the face of challenge, it can be all too easy for you as a leader to loose sight of yourself as you strive forwards to achieve targets and outcomes of the organisation you work for, even when the approach dictated is not in line with your core values.

But what about the dictated change/approach that moves you away from your values, but you know you have no choice but to lead the team or risk adverse impact with your boss or even losing your job!

Understanding and following the fundamentals of authenticity will support you across the implementation of all leadership styles and support you in leading authentically even in the face of adversity!

1. Self-Awareness

Authentic leadership starts with heightened self-awareness. This is not only a deep understanding of our strengths, weaknesses, and values, but also an accurate understanding of how they influence and are perceived by others.

Being connected to ourselves is essential for us to truly develop our sense of purpose within our professional roles, and often is least supported in traditional leadership theory training.

  • Take time to understand who you are as a person, what values you hold and determine your 6 top values that you lead your life by.

  • Understand your purpose by connecting your values to your vision of your life and direction

  • From this purpose, you can find clarity on your boundaries. What is acceptable in your role as a leader and what is not?

  • Get clear on your EQ, understand from your values and purpose, how your behaviour is affected when they are challenged and what impact does that have on others?

2. Internalised moral perspective

Ensuring that your actions are grounded in your positive moral and ethical values is a vital aspect of authentic leadership.

In the face of pressure to act in line with the corporate traditions, you have the ability to act in congruence with your positive and ethical values.

  • Recognise that as a member of the team, you have a unique experience and skillset that supports the growth of the organisation. You bring value!

  • Build your confidence to challenge the status quo and offer in a positive manner an alternative approach. Challenging the old way of doing things does not make you disruptive, or difficult!

  • Check in with your values when faced with challenge and understand when to compromise. You will no doubt have to make a decision at times to continue to challenge or recognise that this boundary will need to be crossed in order to keep your job! This doesn’t mean, however that you cannot make the best of this situation.

  • Maintain a positive approach, finding the best path forwards with your team to gain the best outcomes regardless of the challenge on your values. This will require your transparency with your team!

3. Relational Transparency

Communicating openly and honestly with staff members and colleagues alike, and in turn encouraging the reciprocation of this communication style marks the authentic leader.

Transparency truly enables our teams and colleagues to understand our values, our ethos and develops an understanding of our purpose. This understanding is essential for enabling respect and followership in the shared journey as a team/organisation.

  • Develop personal identification of you as a leader, and the social identification within the group

  • Be vulnerable! You do not need to share every minute detail with your colleagues and team; however, vulnerability will deepen your relationship and further bolster your trust and respect of your team.

  • Be open in the face of adversity! No-one likes the leader that blindly follows the dictatorship that does not make sense! Even when there is the choice between ‘towing the line’ or loose your job, allow yourself to be honest with your team, and encourage a ‘growth mindset’ approach to making a situation work the best way you can together!

4. Balanced Processing

Listening and considering the diversity of opinion has been cited in many leadership styles over the last 10 years and again is a vital component of the authentic leader.

This even extends to the consideration of opinions that are incongruent with your own personal values, in a plight to make all decisions fair and objective.

  • Ensure you adopt a curious approach to all major decision-making, exploring the experience, knowledge, and values of others within your team.

  • Understanding in situations of change/approach that fall out of line with your values, how you feel. Appreciating the reasons for the approach and finding a way to move forward that makes a positive impact for the organisation, the team and for you.

  • Remaining transparent and vulnerable is key to ensuring that you work in times of adversity with your team to ensure that any change or approach (even when misaligned with your values) makes the best impact it can

Round up

Whilst formal leadership training often supports development of the theory of emotional intelligence, it often lacks the focus on supporting the mindset of a leader. Authentic leadership as you have read, requires you to be completely aware of yourself.

The first and foremost important action for you as a leader is to understand your true self. Your values and purpose need to be fully understood to enable you to be connected to them, and then therefore act in line with them across your personal and professional life. This is your compass, that enables you to drive forward through change, and remain committed to your work and your team.

Your behaviours are grounded in your psychological resources of hope, optimism, trust, and positive emotions to model and promote these qualities in others. When you role model these behaviours, you will enhance staff attitudes such as motivation and satisfaction with work and, in turn, these positive attitudes may lead to important staff behaviours such as improved performance outcomes.

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Louise Parker, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Louise Parker, is an Internationally Accredited Transformational Leadership coach, NLP Practitioner and Practitioner in TimeLine Therapy. She provides coaching on a 1-1 and group basis following her Leaders Ignited process with a focus on leader mindset, alongside the provision of training across online platforms. Louise has always had a deep desire to help others, and this led her to an 18 year career as a registered nurse, clinical leader and Director in the NHS. Following her own transformation journey, Louise added to her First Class Honours Degree in Nursing, to become an Internationally accredited coach to fully understand the transformation journey in order to empower her clients to level up their leadership and master their leader mindset.



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