Bring your whole self to work – that’s what many companies are asking their employees to do in a push for greater authenticity in the workplace. Employers ask this in hopes of creating a more welcoming company culture, one in which employees feel free to be themselves. Love cats? Post photos of your feline friends in the company chatroom. Run marathons? Wear your latest running swag to the office. Dig Black Sabbath? Start a club for fellow metalheads.
The push for authenticity is about more than hobbies, of course. It encourages diversity and signals acceptance. The trend is not exclusive to rank and file staff — authenticity is taking off among company leaders, too. But it’s tricky to get right at the top level. As leaders balance candor with strategy and tough decisions, what does it mean to be authentic?
Self-awareness is the key
The bring-your-whole-self-to-work movement may be somewhat recent, but the concept of authentic leadership isn’t new, as researchers at the University of Nebraska’s Management Department pointed out in a 2009 paper. The authors referenced earlier academic work that defined authentic leadership as a process resulting in “greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development.”
Self-awareness is a key part of authentic leadership, the paper explained. A leader with robust self-awareness understands his or her strengths, weaknesses, and “the way one makes sense of the world.” This mindfulness — along with balanced processing, moral behavior, and transparency — allows managers to lead their reports with greater authenticity.
Six styles of leadership
Most people aren’t born with a natural capacity for self awareness. Leaders are therefore greatly helped by tools that help them build a knowledge of the self. Part of this acuteness is becoming aware of one’s natural leadership styles.
PeopleBest research has revealed six natural leadership styles: autocratic, consensus, compassion, mentor, navigator, and relentless. Each of these styles has its upsides and downsides. But most leaders have no idea that they have a style, let alone how it impacts their management efficacy.
For instance, one of the more common leadership styles is the autocratic style. Autocratic leaders shine under deadlines and during crises. They can save a failing business and handle problem employees with little sweat. But they can wreak havoc on morale if they don’t keep their practices in check. Employees under autocratic leaders may experience diminished clarity on their role and value.
Leaders who are unaware of their autocratic tendencies may cause companies serious problems. But leaders who understand their weaknesses alongside their strengths can use their style to the business’ advantage, without the nasty side effects.
The most effective leaders in today’s workplaces are able to use qualities embedded in their leadership style to match the various situations they face. At times, a crisis necessitates a decisive and bold stance. But other situations call for a little time to build consensus.
What’s YOUR leadership style?
To learn about your leadership styles, take the PeopleBest Leadership Styles Brief. It’s no cost, and we’ll send you your results immediately. The brief will help you discover the six distinct Leadership Styles, giving you the advantage when used in the right situation. To find out how PeopleBest can equip you and your team with self-knowledge, book a demo and set up a time to chat with one of our specialists.
PeopleBest is a revolutionary, simple and powerful way to capture the exact ‘DNA of success’ inside people, teams and companies.