The 5Ls of Authentic Leadership
Authenticity is the critical driver for success in every aspect of your life. The only way to earn TRUST is by being credible, open, and honest. When it comes to leadership, it is the difference between success and failure. If your team does not trust you or see you as honest you might as well get out of leadership.
Think about this for a second. Would you buy from someone you didn’t trust or you felt was phony? No, right?
It’s the same thing in leadership. Every day you are selling to your team the reason why they should follow you.
The bottom line – People don’t follow titles; they follow people that they know truly care and have their best interest at heart.
Within the 5Ls, you can find the road map to achieving authenticity. Here are just a few simple tips that can be implemented immediately.
Your team must know that you care for them -
The easiest way to do this is to learn what each individual cares about. What are they truly passionate about? Once you know this critical piece of information, make a point to bring this subject up during your touch points or just when you see them from time to time. If you see an article or information on their subject of interest, take a moment to send it to them. It’s that simple. It truly is the little things.
Show that you remember -
Here is an easy one, make sure you know your team’s birthdays and work anniversary. Mark it on your calendar, set a reminder and on the date send them a text or email or when you see them, simply go out of your way to acknowledge it. This will take almost no time out of your day and will pay off in spades. Simple right? You would be surprised how many leaders don’t do this basic task.
Mistakes are our greatest teachers -
Being able to call out your mistakes and laugh at yourself is critical to authenticity. It shows that you are human, genuine, and approachable. Go out of your way to let your team know when you make a mistake. It will also let them know it is okay for them to make a mistake and learn from it. Thus, creating an environment of trust.
Project positive energy -
Bottom line, the leader sets the tone. When the boss is having a bad day, everyone is having a bad day. People want to be around individuals that are positive and uplifting. Even on the days when it’s hard, do your best to create a positive environment. This is critical to morale and retention.
Truly effective leaders create more leaders -Team development -
If you are truly authentic about leading your team, you will make them feel valued, connected, confident and empowered. What have you done to develop your team and make them more effective, even if it doesn’t benefit you directly? If you look at studies on why people stay at a job, the #1 reason people stay or leave isn’t the almighty dollar, its growth and development. Invest in your team if you want to be perceived as caring and authentic.
Passion and Purpose-
Authentic leaders show their passion and purpose every day. People can tell when you are faking it. If you don’t love what you do, they will know it. More importantly, if they feel that you are not passionate about their best interests, you will never get the most out of your team and the good ones will leave. Employee retention is critical to success. Are you seeing the pattern?
It CAN NOT be all work all the time -
When was the last time you did something fun with your team? The National Institute of Stress recently put out a study stating that stress related absenteeism is costing US business $300 Billion a year. Take time with your team to do an in person or if needed virtual happy hour and make sure there is NO shop talk. Make it real and from the heart. This needs to be a time for each of them to talk about what is going on in their life and to blow off some steam.
Paid Time Off (PTO) - is NOT Pretend Time Off -
Taking time off is critical to your team’s mental health. Make sure they are using their time off. Also, make sure when they are off, they are off. So that means you do not bother them unless it is critical. Here is another one, don’t send them an email after hours or on the weekend if you don’t need the answer right away. Respect their boundaries. Showing that you are sensitive to their personal time will show you care and thus your authenticity.
We don’t have all the answers - You can only control the controllable -
As a leader you need to leave the perception behind that you know everything. As a leader if you are genuine as to who you are, you will know you do not have all the answers. Leave your EGO at the door. We are all working in ways we have never experienced. It is ok to show that you don’t have all the answers. It is OK to say the words ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ This will make you more approachable and authentic. Moreover, let your team know that it is okay to feel the way they do right now. There are so many things outside of our control, you and your team need to stay focused on the things you can control and LET THE REST GO.
It’s okay to be outside your comfort zone -
Everyone is outside of their comfort zone right now. Stress, anxiety and burnout are at an all time high. You must reinforce with your team that being outside their comfort zone is okay. Your team will respect your honesty that even you are outside your comfort zone. Honesty = Authenticity. You and your team need to create a new norm. A new way of doing things. The one thing that crisis teaches us is that you don't come out of it the same. Embrace the change and pivot. One of the best ways to tackle this is to create a new culture, environment, and game plan. Here is the key if you want buy-in, your team must be part of the process. Hold brainstorming sessions with your team, create an action plan and make sure it is S.M.A.R.T- (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound). You will be shocked at the positive outcome. Inclusion is critical to success.
Making sure you are using all the 5Ls as discussed above is a must for a leader to be authentic. The key to 5Ls is staying focused on maintaining a balance with all the ‘Ls’. None of them can stand alone. Follow the 5Ls and your team will feel more valued, connected, confident and empowered.