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Authentic Leadership – How To Ignite Your Leadership Superpower!

Written by: Anna Nordengren, 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.


This is an invitation to explore and nurture your personal Leadership Superpower and become the authentic leader you always wish you had. Yes, I’m talking about one of those buzzwords that keep popping up in a leadership context Authentic Leadership. Some say that being authentic can be a threat to your career, but I will tell you why it’s not.

Isn’t it funny how these words seem to devaluate once they enter the business world? Trust, vulnerability, and authenticity… Someone writes a book about it that resonates with a lot of people. Via management literature, it makes its way into our organizations, management teams, and leadership training. But somewhere in the implementation, the meaning of the word gets lost.

What does it mean to be authentic?

What is your understanding of authenticity? I have noticed how the pandemic has awakened a deeper interest in becoming a more authentic version of ourselves, but what does that truly mean? And how can being authentic become the spark that ignites your superpower as a leader?

When you are authentic you stay true to who you really are and act in a way that is in accordance with your personality and your values. You don’t have to waste valuable energy on playing games, putting on a mask, and pretending to be someone you are not. But what are the benefits of being authentic in a leadership context?

3 Benefits of Authentic leadership

Research has shown that authentic leadership is a big (some claim even the biggest) predictor of:

  • Employee job satisfaction

  • Organizational commitment

  • Workplace happiness

And happiness and job satisfaction are the soil for creativity and high performance. They are the keys to long-term success for a business (and for you as a leader). In fact, the positive correlation between authentic leadership and innovation was confirmed in a study where the leadership style of entrepreneurial business owners was examined.

5 Qualities of Authentic leadership

So what does it take to become an authentic leader? According to Bill George who wrote the book “Authentic Leadership” in 2003, there are 5 distinct qualities of authentic leadership:

1. A sense of purpose

Having a strong sense of purpose helps you stay motivated and serves as guidance in difficult times. It makes you come across as real, passionate, and trustworthy. Just as Simon Sinek described in his book “Start with Why”, successful leaders inspire everyone to take action by starting with Why (=Purpose).

2. Distinct values

An authentic leader has strong values and doesn’t compromise on them. This is what integrity looks like. When your employees know what to expect from you, it creates certainty and appreciation.

3. Relationship building

When you show up as the authentic you, as a human being with a genuine interest in other people, you are able to build valuable relationships with your employees and colleagues. Healthy relationships create loyalty and commitment to you and your business.

4. Goals and self-discipline

Goals and self-discipline may seem harsh but think about it a clear goal helps you stay focused and guides you and your team in decision-making. When the goal is clearly communicated it can be shared and people will know what to do without demotivating micro-management.

5. Genuine heart

When I made a poll on LinkedIn and asked people what they thought was the most important leadership skill, 48% (out of 951 respondents) replied Compassion. This is also one of the qualities of authentic leadership. Compassion boosts engagement and builds resilience and trust.

I think these 5 qualities apply to being authentic, whether you are a leader or not. But what makes it so difficult?

Can being authentic hinder your career?

Some argue that being authentic can hinder you in your career and hold you back from personal growth. I’m convinced it is quite the contrary. I don’t question the research behind these statements, but I believe there is a misunderstanding of the very concept of authenticity.

Being authentic is not about remaining the same, holding on to the old and well-known, and not daring to step outside your comfort zone. No, it’s about recognizing who you really are, what your strengths are, and growing from a place of truth and inner power. This for sure can require getting rid of old limiting beliefs about yourself and challenging how you are used to showing up in the world.

And if being authentic, the full expression of you, is an obstacle in your career, maybe the career, not the authentic you is the problem? Maybe you should consider a different path, where your superpower is recognized and valued? Or, at least, change the setting, and go and work for another company.

How to become an authentic leader?

But how do you move beyond the “buzzword” and step into being the authentic version of who you are?

It starts with mindful awareness of who you are and why you feel, react, and behave as you do. The first step may very well be a meditation practice, where you learn how to observe yourself from a distance. You will probably find there are things you do out of habit or because you thought someone expected it from you.

Now we are getting back to where this article started becoming an authentic leader is about going inside, getting to know yourself, and developing your self-awareness. It’s about reflecting upon your own behaviors, feelings, and values. Tapping into your most authentic self is a journey of self-discovery and self-mastery.

When you do, you will be able to discover what your inner purpose is, which will help unleash the confidence and power that come from being your true self, the authentic you.

If you are willing to make the effort and dig deep inside, there will be gold for you. Your authentic self is your inner gold, your source of magnificent leadership superpowers. Are you ready?

Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more on leadership and personal development. I also invite you to download my FREE Mindful Productivity Activator.


Anna Nordengren, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Anna Nordengren is a dedicated business professional with 25 years of experience in leadership, marketing and business consulting. She is also an ICF Coach, an NLP Practitioner, and a Certified Yoga Teacher. After a personal crisis, where she dived deep into her own personal development, she made it her mission is to bring all her experience and insights to inspire and help people make changes they are longing for to reach their goals, both in life and in business. “Life is short, don't waste a day being in a situation where you are not happy without trying to change it”. Her academic background is an MSc in Business and Economics with an international degree from Lund University in Sweden, and an Executive MBA from the same University.



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