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Quality #9: How to lead with authenticity

How do you “show up” to work every day? Do you feel conflicted in any way? Are you "one way" at work and "another way" outside of work?

In this article, we continue to uncover the 21 qualities showcased in my new book, Healing Leadership: How to Lead, Love, and Thrive in Business and Life, published in April 2021.

During the interviews with 41 industry leaders, we uncovered these qualities so that you can increase your confidence, remove self-doubt, and develop a growth mindset to advance as a leader and support your team to deliver on the organization's objectives.

In previous articles (available from our blog), we discussed the first eight leadership qualities healing and empowering leaders must possess to not only survive but thrive in these complex times:

  1. Communicate powerfully, including listening.

  2. Show empathy and high emotional intelligence.

  3. Value and empower their team.

  4. Set the vision.

  5. Are flexible.

  6. Are Transparent.

  7. Manage and lead through change.

  8. Build trust and solve problems

In this article, we discuss leadership quality #9: authenticity.

How to lead with authenticity

These days, we need our leaders to show up and lead with authenticity.

Many of us have heard the expression "bringing your authentic self to work." However, one of my podcast guests, Sandy Stosz, who wrote Leading in Unchartered Waters, reminds us that leading with authenticity or bringing your whole self to work doesn't mean that you disregard other people or disrespect them.

Leading with authenticity is about showing up entirely to the workplace.

When you are engaging with people at work and interacting with them, bring your entire self to work.

How does that look as a leader?

When you share information with your team, clients, stakeholders, vendors, etc., express your dreams and vision for the company, the team, and the department.

  • Express the challenges you see ahead of you and how you can best move forward from your perspective.

  • Ask them questions about how they see things moving forward and a solution for the problem you're facing.

  • Be honest about what you perceive in them. Be genuine.

Many of us want to be influential and hone our executive presence. It can be tough to accomplish that if we're not authentic.

For example, if you're self-aware during an interaction and notice that something's not going right, being authentic means speaking your truth about it. Say what you notice with kindness. It will let those in your presence feel your energy of truth and compassion.

What can prevent us from being genuine?

I've learned that one factor that may prevent us from being authentic in our interactions is fear.

During the past five years as a full-time coach, career strategist, and transformational speaker, I've genuinely shared personal and professional stories, unlike any other time in my career. Contrary to the judgment I initially feared, I've experienced the most profound connections with them and a sense of mutual belonging when I've engaged with my audiences like this.

There's also this perfectionism that many of us struggle with. While trying to portray that I had it all together, aiming to be perfect, it meant that I wouldn't want to share stories that would not support this image.

Share both successes and "lessons"

Similarly, when trying to inspire and motivate your team or get them excited about a project you'll be working on, if you only tell them about the successes of your career, they're not going to relate to you or see you as the human you are.

Instead, if you share with them a time when you were engaged in a project and were excited about it, and it didn't go well, you become more relatable. Let your audience know how much you learned and grew from that experience, and the people in the room will begin to see you as the human being you are. They'll see themselves in you.

The fact is that we've all experienced successes and failures. Although, I don't like to call them failures because as long as you learn from them, in my eyes, they are lessons vs. failures. So, let's say that we've all had outcomes we didn't expect or want.

As long as I show up and authentically share what happened, I connect to my audience.

By sharing my stories genuinely, I let them know that I understand them. You influence people when they feel understood, not when they understand you.

Ironically, by trying to be perfect and not showing up authentically, we have the opposite effect of being influential: we land flat because no one can connect with us. People cannot relate to us as a person.

Bring it all together

Are being inauthentic in your interactions with your team?

If you have noticed that you're pretending to be perfect or not showing the accurate picture of your experiences, observe the impact it may be having on your credibility, influence, and building trust with your team.

If you feel genuine in your interactions, sharing both the good and the ugly constructively, kudos to you. Keep up the excellent work, and rest assured that you are role modeling for your team.

Being authentic is a healthy vehicle for connection with your talent.

Easier said than done? If you need support, you can reach us at to set up a complimentary strategy session and explore how our programs can help you or your leaders gain these skills and get out of survival mode and into thriving mode. Your company and your success depend on it.

In the meantime, be fearless! (act despite the fear)

Coach Ginny 💕

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Dr. Ginny A. Baro is a sought-after international motivational speaker & leadership coach, a career strategist, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work.

Ginny specializes in partnering with organization to develop leadership teams at all levels of management. And she supports individuals navigating a corporate hierarchy or moving into an entirely new phase of their career. She has successfully facilitated live and virtual leadership training and coaching programs for individuals and Fortune 500 companies with over 140,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000. To learn more, visit ExecutiveBound.

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