There are countless articles to be found on leadership: how to lead a team, what to do to gain trust, etc. The list goes on. But I think there is one leadership quality that really matters, one that has the ability to propel you forward in your career while filling you with joy. And that attribute is… authenticity, my friends, authenticity. Such a simple word, it means to be real, honest, genuine. It’s easy to see the connection between words like ‘honest’ and ‘genuine.’ If you aren’t authentic when leading or building teams, things won’t fall easily into place. Many people think that the key ingredients of successful leadership are visibility and desire, but they’re wrong. If you don’t lead from an authentic place, it will be difficult to attain all the key elements that are necessary to succeed in a leadership position, such as trustworthiness and the ability to be influential. Visibility and authenticity are two important factors in the workplace, and it’s a combination of the two that will really make a leader stand out.
Here’s the good news about authenticity: When you love what you do, it’s hard not to be authentic. It’s something that comes naturally in all that you do. When you’re authentic, you genuinely don’t mind working hard, staying late, or helping people move towards the bigger picture. What’s great about authenticity is that there’s no way to fake it in the long run.
Authenticity isn’t to be confused with visibility. When you act with authenticity, you’ll become visible. Yes, it is generally a good thing simply to be visible. However, a person who continuously only cares about the next big promotion, and who gets involved in things only to be “seen” won’t last in the game for very long. People who are authentic truly believe in and love the tasks in front of them and have no problem playing the game long-term. They don’t need fancy offices. They only want to help their organizations to grow.
Next time you’re thinking about getting involved in something, ask yourself if it aligns with your personal and professional visions. If it does, go for it. Otherwise, recommend someone else for the gig.
Originally published at Higher Education Coffee Talk