What does it mean to be an authentic leader? You hear the word often enough and you wonder, am I being authentic in my style? Does my team view me as a good leader? When you think of an authentic leader, two people come to my mind. Yes, there are others, but these leaders I respect and honor their style.
The two that I a refer to are running large corporations. But don't let that stop you from considering their style. Regardless if your company has 3 people or 100, you too can be an authentic leader. They are Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks and Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands. You ask, why them?
To be an authentic leader you have to have high emotional intelligence skills. What does that mean? You have inner, other and outer focus in your leadership style. Self awareness is the starting point. You know your purpose, vision, strengths and weaknesses. And you also understand that leadership requires integrity and focus.
Other focus is your people. Do you connect with them and understand what they may be saying? Empathy and compassion in leadership allows you to communicate more effectively. When leaders connect, they build trust and a support team. Outer focus is the organization at large. Ask yourself, what is your strategy? What is your mission that will take and guide your ship?
When leaders recognize that it is WE and not I, that they have checked their ego at the door and surround their weaknesses with the strengths of others, you have a winning formula.
I mentioned Howard Schultz. Starbucks is in the business of humanity. Howard looks back to his personal story as a young boy. He is motivated by the fear of failure but inspired to provide excellent benefits for his employees. He represents communication and connection in his leadership. Think of the last time you bought a Starbucks. For me, they were courteous, used my name and smiled. Those few things are the very basics of leadership.
Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands which includes Cinnabon and other brands,leads with courage, curiosity, humility and confidence. She leans of her humble beginnings, growing up in a family that only had $10 a week to survive. She believes that authenticity is the fastest way to win trust and build credibility. She supports and champions her employees.
Gone are the days of command and control. Today's employees whether they are at the beginning of their career or at the end, want to feel valued and understood. With engagement globally at an all time low of 13%, leaders need to think differently. They need to lead with creativity, humility, focus and curiosity, to name a few. They need to ask themselves, how can I support, collaborate, communicate and listen to my teams? When a leader takes a second to ask, how would I like to be led, they will find the answer.
Become self aware and ask yourself what leadership style would motivate and inspire me? When the answer appears, that is the leader you should be.
Colleen speaks, trains and coaches businesses and organizations on beingleaders and creating thriving work environments.