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How to be an Authentic Leader

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April 25, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
3 min read
Authentic leaders align values with practices, fostering trust. Rooted in genuineness, they lead with self-awareness, ethics, and transparency.

How to be an Authentic Leader

Becoming an authentic leader is about much more than adopting a leadership style or mimicking the traits of others. It involves a deeply personal journey towards understanding oneself, one's values, and how these can be aligned with one's leadership practices.

Authentic leadership is rooted in being genuine, transparent, and true to one's values and beliefs, inspiring trust and loyalty from those one leads. This article explores the pathways towards developing authentic leadership, highlighting key strategies, challenges, and the impact of authenticity on leadership effectiveness.

Understanding Authentic Leadership

Authentic leadership is a concept that has gained significant attention in recent years as organizations and employees increasingly value integrity, transparency, and ethical behaviour in their leaders. At its core, authentic leadership is about being true to oneself—leading from one's core values and beliefs and being consistent in word and action. An authentic leader is self-aware, practices self-regulation, is driven by a purpose and forms genuine relationships.

The Journey to Authenticity


The foundation of authentic leadership is self-awareness. It involves a continuous process of self-reflection and introspection, where a leader seeks to understand their strengths, weaknesses, values, and the impact of their behaviour on others. Tools such as peer feedback, personality assessments, and reflective journaling can enhance self-awareness.


Authentic leaders are transparent in their actions and decisions. They communicate openly with their team, sharing the what and the how and why behind their decisions. This openness fosters trust and respect, creating a culture of valuing honesty and open dialogue.

Ethical Behavior

Authentic leadership is inherently ethical. Authentic leaders place a high value on doing the right thing, even when it's challenging. They lead by example, setting the moral compass for their organisation and ensuring their actions always align with their values.

Balanced Processing

Authentic leaders practice balanced processing, considering all relevant information and viewpoints before making decisions. They are open to feedback and willing to admit mistakes, demonstrating humility and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Relational Transparency

Building genuine relationships is crucial for authentic leaders. They invest time in understanding their team members, recognising their strengths, and supporting their development. This relational transparency builds a strong bond of loyalty and commitment.

Strategies for Developing Authentic Leadership

  1. Reflect Regularly: Allocate time for personal reflection to assess your values, goals, and the alignment of your actions with these values.
  2. Seek Feedback: Encourage and welcome feedback from colleagues, mentors, and coaches. Use this feedback as a tool for growth and self-improvement.
  3. Develop Emotional Intelligence: Work on enhancing your emotional intelligence, including your ability to empathise with others and understand your own emotions.
  4. Foster a Growth Mindset: Embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth rather than threats to your competence or identity.
  5. Lead with Purpose: Clarify your purpose as a leader. What impact do you want to have on your team and organisation? Does your purpose guide your actions?

Challenges in Practicing Authentic Leadership

Authentic leadership is not without its challenges. Leaders may struggle with vulnerability, fearing that showing their true selves could be seen as a weakness. Others may find it difficult to maintain their authenticity in an organisational culture that values conformity. Overcoming these challenges requires courage, resilience, and a supportive network of peers and mentors.

The Impact of Authentic Leadership

The benefits of authentic leadership are profound. Authentic leaders create more engaged, committed, and satisfied teams. Their authenticity fosters an environment of trust and respect, enhancing team performance and organisational success. Moreover, by being true to themselves, authentic leaders experience greater personal satisfaction and well-being.


Authentic leadership is a powerful approach that benefits both leaders and their organisations. It requires a commitment to self-awareness, ethical behaviour, and building genuine relationships.

While the journey to becoming an authentic leader can be challenging, it is also deeply rewarding. By embracing authenticity, leaders can inspire trust, foster innovation, and lead their teams to achieve their fullest potential.