For seven decades, leadership scholars have conducted thousands of studies to determine the traits of great leaders. Thankfully, none have constructed a clear profile of an ideal leader. There’s no single leadership style or approach to leadership you can imitate to become a great leader. We can certainly learn from others, but we all have to find our unique authentic self.
Being an authentic leader comes from being more fully who you are. It’s that simple and it’s that complex.
Here are twelve indicators of being authentic:
- A sense of purpose. Authentic people have a sense of purpose that gives them a reason to get up in the morning and keep walking through the hard times.
- They resist conformity. Authentic people don’t need others to validate their worth. They can express their opinions openly when needed. Not to be compliant or defiant, but simply to be honest.
- Deep-seated curiosity. Authentic people are life-long learners and actively pursue feedback from others.
- The courage to be vulnerable. They have a close community where they share their struggles, fears, values, self-doubts, dreams, uncertainties, grief, and deepest joy – so they are comfortable bringing the full spectrum of their humanity to the world.
- They care about others. They are present and engaged, taking time to listen, tune in, and sincerely value others.
- They own their mistakes. Authentic people take responsibility for their actions, including their mistakes. and can admit when they are wrong.
- Humility. They know they are never the smartest person in the room and shine the light on others.
- They know their values, set good boundaries, and can say no.
- They work for the greater good. They are committed to service over self-interest.
- They respect others. Authentic people value of diversity, and are not threatened by, but welcome and celebrate differences. They seek to understand as many alternative work views as deeply as they can.
- They are accountable. They show up. You can count on authentic people.
- Authentic people are self-accepting. They know they can’t always exhibit some of these traits and somehow find a way to be okay with their imperfect humanity.
Tag a leader in your life that demonstrates these traits.