Customers are seeking meaningful connections with brands, and employees want real relationships with their leaders. Read on to find out the qualities of a truly authentic leader in today’s world.
In an era where brands and businesses are struggling to earn and retain the trust of their customers, authenticity is a good way to differentiate from competitors and build meaningful connections.
Authentic leaders “keep it real” by fostering human connections and focusing on building long-term trust.
So what are the attributes of an authentic leader, and what can we do to cultivate those characteristics in ourselves?
Quality 1: Transparency
One of the biggest things that inspires trust is transparency. Authentic leaders strive to be open with customers and employees alike. They are not only open about their values and process, but also about their technology and how they’re using it.
Quality 2: Respectfulness
Authentic leaders show respect for people, cultures, and most critically, the environment. They lead with empathy, recognizing the humanness in other people. They also strive to incorporate conscious consumption and sustainable operations into their companies.
Quality 3: Bringing Your Whole Self
Truly authentic leaders shun corporate jargon and talk to employees, customers, and competitors like human beings. When leaders drop their guard and aren’t afraid to show their mistakes and shortcomings, it allows humility and vulnerability to shine through – and that builds trust.
The image that an authentic leader projects in public shouldn’t be drastically different from how they are when they’re in private. Authentic leaders bring their whole selves to work, not two separate personas (one work, and one non-work). It also means they use social media authentically, in their own voice rather than one that is managed by a corporate communications team.
Quality 4: Willingness to stand up for important issues
Most consumers these days are belief-driven, and their values have a big impact on their buying decisions. We want our leaders to believe in the same things we do.
Authentic leaders have a strong moral and ethical compass, and they take a stance on issues like LGBTQ rights, gun control, or calling out racism. They are expected to stand up for their beliefs.
Quality 5: Reliability
Consumers and employees need to know they can count on leaders to provide great service and consistency. Reliability must be built into every step leaders make.
A Powerful Example of Authentic Leadership
Paypal CEO Dan Schulman uses social media to support social justice causes and highlight issues he feels strongly about. For example, he uses his platform to speak about his support for Black Lives Matter. Paypal also followed up his public support on social media with a $530 million pledge to black-owned businesses.
Schulman once said, “The people who argue that profit and purpose are two separate things, I think don’t really understand that they don’t work against each other.”