In a world where so many people shape how they are perceived by altering online profiles through social media and carefully tweeting at opportune moments, authenticity can be overwhelmingly refreshing. Authentic leaders are the most impactful leaders and we can probably learn the most from them. But how does one go about being authentic, especially an authentic leader?
First, many leaders who show great authenticity have many advisors by their sides that can tell them when they are in the wrong. This may be a choice of the leader or something that just happens organically. However, it is important to recognize when someone else is right and to be able to admit a mistake. It shows true, authentic leadership. A good reason to surround yourself with people who can tell you when you are wrong is confirmation bias. This is the bias that allows you to choose answers or possible solutions that fit your original claim or commonly held perception rather than choosing the correct answer or solution. Advisors and peers can keep this bias in check. On that point, a true, authentic leader can admit when they are bias. In this way they can take steps to acknowledge and counteract their biases.
Great leaders also recognize that in order to be really great at something, they have to be bad as well. Instead of being mediocre at everything, a leader has to let some things go and become weak areas to ultimately excel in other areas. It’s okay to not be great at everything. Also, when things go wrong for a leader and they fall out of favor or out of their leadership position, they use their time at the bottom well. They usually refocus their goals, hone their skills and get ready to get back up again. The head of Emerging Markets at Oxford Economics, Rain Newton-Smith said if you use these moments to “use the difficult times in your life to dig deep and find new purpose or strength, the more resilient you will be. It is in these times that we learn the most, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.”