Skip to content

Authenticity as a Leader and Authentic Leadership Development

Authenticity as a Leader and Authentic Leadership Development

Building relationships

Define: au·then·tic

Of undisputed origin; genuine” (

In today’s professional landscape, authenticity as a leader has frequently been discussed in business circles. Similar to executive presence, its definition within a corporate context can sometimes be unclear. Authenticity essentially refers to a person’s genuine self, distinguishing between sincerity and pretence. It’s the cornerstone of authentic leadership, embodying qualities such as emotional intelligence and integrity. When leaders demonstrate authenticity, it improves job satisfaction and fosters trust among employees. This genuine approach not only strengthens professional relationships but also contributes to a positive work environment.

Developing Authenticity in Leadership

Becoming an authentic leader requires reflection, openness to feedback, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. It involves developing trust through consistent actions and transparent communication. Authentic leaders influence others by being genuine role models, creating an environment where individuals feel valued and empowered. They foster a culture of honesty and accountability, encouraging open dialogue and collaboration. Developing authenticity as a leader also involves acknowledging and embracing diversity, as well as recognizing the unique perspectives and contributions of each employee. Your authentic leadership style requires self-awareness, vulnerability, and a commitment to personal growth, continuously striving to align actions with values. Authenticity in leadership is not about perfection but about genuine connection and making a positive impact.

The Importance of Authentic Leadership

The importance of authentic leadership lies in its ability to create trust and inspire others. Authentic leaders are genuine and true to themselves, which helps create strong relationships based on honesty and integrity. When leaders are authentic, it creates a positive work environment where team members feel valued and respected. Authentic behaviour encourages open communication, productivity, and collaboration, leading to better teamwork. Overall, the importance of authentic leadership cannot be overstated, as it lays the foundation for a positive workplace culture and drives organizational success and employee engagement.

Trust Versus Competence as an Authentic Leader

Trust versus competence is a crucial balance in leadership. While competence refers to the skills and abilities needed to perform tasks effectively, trust is about reliability, honesty, and integrity. Employee trust is earned through consistent actions, active listening, transparency, and genuine concern for others. Leaders who prioritize competence over trust may be seen as distant or authoritarian, which can hinder effective communication and teamwork. Therefore, successful leaders strive to balance both trust and competence, recognizing that trust is the foundation upon which effective leadership is built. They lead by example, demonstrating both their expertise and their integrity, earning the respect and loyalty of their colleagues.

According to Amy Cuddy and her team, our initial instinct when meeting someone is to showcase our competence, aiming to impress with our intelligence and success potential. However, this focus on competence overlooks the crucial aspect of building relationships based on warmth and personal connection. Cuddy identifies two archetypes: the “Lovable Fool” (high warmth, low competence) and the “Competent Jerk” (low warmth, high competence). In scenarios like a job interview, interviewers are more likely to favour the “lovable fool” which demonstrates warmth, authenticity, and a willingness to learn over the aloof “competent jerk” who lacks interpersonal skills.

This insight underscores the importance of authenticity in making lasting impressions. Corinne Lavictoire emphasizes that striving for perfection in competence neglects the essence of being memorable and building trust through authenticity and warmth. Authenticity fosters trust, which in turn cultivates stronger and more enduring relationships. In essence, prioritizing warmth and genuine connection over a mere display of competence leads to more meaningful interactions and better outcomes in both personal and professional settings.

Authentic Leaders: Transformational, not Transactional Connections

Authentic leaders focus on transformative connections rather than just transactional ones. They value meaningful connections with their team members, striving to inspire and empower them to reach their full potential. Transformative connections go beyond the surface level. For example, a transactional relationship in a workplace might involve a manager assigning tasks to an employee and providing rewards or incentives for completing them. In contrast, a transformative setting would involve the manager taking the time to understand the employee’s strengths, interests, and career goals and providing mentorship and support to help them grow and develop professionally. Displaying authentic leadership skills involves fostering positive transformational connections that inspire growth, foster collaboration, and drive meaningful change within their organizations.

The importance of balancing competence with trust cannot be overstated. While competence is essential to an organization’s leadership brand, trust is the key to authenticity as a leader in driving long-term success. Authentic leaders lead by example, demonstrating both their expertise and their integrity and earning the respect and loyalty of their team members. Being authentic and displaying transparency are principles that guide a good leader.

For more information on how you can increase your authenticity as a leader and build trusting relationships in business, take a look at our Executive Presence and Leadership Skills workshop for leadership development! In addition, check out our blog post: “The Top 4 Leadership Qualities That Make A Great Leader” to read more about trust.

Share the knowledge:

Free Trial - Sign Up Today

Become a better leader today.   Experience our online leadership program with our free trial offer.  Click here to learn more.

Most Popular Posts

Stay in the Know

Subscribe to the Corporate Class Inc. newsletter and stay up to date with all of our latest news coming straight to your inbox:

Skip to content