Discover your Authentic Leadership Superpower! Take the 2-min Quiz now!

my 7 tips to become and authentic leader leadership coach anne koopmann

My 7 Tips to Become an Authentic Leader

It has become a bit of a cliché. Everyone tells you to be authentic. If you have followed me for a while, you might have heard me talk about the importance of authenticity in your leadership a lot. It is all about being an authentic leader.

But why does it really matter and should you invest in your development to become an authentic leader?

The simple answer is “yes”, but let me explain it to you in a bit more detail. We live in a world that thrives on inauthenticity. We are confronted with so many inauthentic moments every day in the media, and even in the office and on the street. But let me ask you this: Which moments do you remember that put a smile on your face? What makes experiences truly special?

It is all about real moments with real emotions and connections

Those moments, when we feel happy and truly aligned, safe and accepted. Moments of true joy, laughter, pride, excitement, motivation and even sadness. These magical moments are based on meaningful connections and real emotions. Those moments, when we feel happy and truly aligned, safe and accepted. Moments of true joy, laughter, pride, excitement, motivation and even sadness. These magical moments are based on meaningful connections and real emotions.

Leaders put on a mask in an attempt to deal with expectations and pressure

As leaders we are often faced with stressful situations, a lot of responsibility and a lot of attention. Leaders have to make the tough decisions, have to manage expectations, performance and always lead by example. This can result in a lot of pressure, especially when we are a new leader or take on a new role with a new team. In an attempt to cope with that pressure, we put on our armour, our mask, in an attempt to be seen as we have it all figured out. Sometimes this mask can also come in the form of trying to copy someone else or an image that resembles, what we have been told a leader has to look and behave like. We compare ourselves to others and try to become more like them. Wearing our mask often happens without us even realising it.

I observed other managers and tried to act more like them

This feels all very familiar for myself. When I took a promotion to lead my first bigger team of around 18 team members, I felt excited about the opportunity to lead and have impact but at the same time, I was worried and nervous. I felt a lot of pressure to proof that I was the right choice. The first weeks I tried very hard to show that I was the right choice, that I deserved to be in this position. I started to focus on my weaknesses and self-doubt kicked in. And so over the next few weeks, I focussed a lot on the areas I wanted to improve, I observed other managers and tried to act more like them to become the manager I thought I should be.

But somehow, I still felt stressed and challenged. It didn’t feel right

I realised that I had tried to copy others and become like someone else. I tried to manage the way others did. I realised that I had forgotten my values, my strengths and my story. Maybe you can relate to this? Have you compared yourself to others around you and felt self-doubt because you couldn’t do things the way they were? Have you tried to copy others to somehow fit in? Have you been wearing a mask? Yes, it’s true, wearing a mask can sometimes work. We have all heard the phrase “Fake it until you make it”. Sometimes, putting on our armour can give us the energy and confidence we need to step into that meeting, to hold that big presentation or to impress new colleagues in a new role. Often this is driven because we feel Imposter Syndrome, we feel like we don’t quite belong, like we do not have what it takes. And so we compare ourselves to others or a picture of a “true leader” we have in our minds and try to be more like that image of a leader. But wearing a mask and pretending to be someone we’re not, can be very exhausting. And more importantly, being inauthentic hinders us to build real connections, relationships and trust with our team.

Without trust, you can’t be an effective leader

If you want to lead, have influence and impact then you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic. But there is a catch! Nobody can teach you to be your true self – only you yourself can understand and re-discover your authentic self. “Be who you really are.” – Sounds so simple, but it is actually one of the hardest skills to master. It requires a lot of self-development, self-awareness, mindfulness and self-acceptance. women in leadership group program lead like you lead with courage leadership coach anne koopmann
The Lead Like You Leadership program is here to guide you!

What did I do to become a more authentic leader?

In my case, it took a few months until I realised that I was missing something really important. I had forgotten to stay true to myself and be me. I got support my by mentor and focused on my values and connect back to what I stand for. I aligned my behaviour and how I showed up every day to these core values of mine. I started to focus on my strengths and what I can bring to the team. I started to lead through my strengths and use them as my real superpowers. I started to really get to know my team and share more about myself to build the relationships. I was honest about feeling insecure or unsure about the best path or outcome. I invested time to understand what motivates myself and others and tried to lead based on trust and inspiration. Staying true to myself and showing up as my authentic self did not happen overnight. It took practice and time. And of course, there were moments when I slipped and put on the mask. And to be honest, sometimes that is needed. If you’re having a bad day or don’t feel like you have the energy to share something about yourself. And that’s is completely ok. But staying true to myself allowed me to become the best leader I could be. I was less stressed, because I was in alignment with my values and my strengths. I did not have to invest energy in trying to pretend to be someone I was not. I managed a great team and we were successful in delivering great performance. And most importantly everyone felt safe and enjoyed being at work. So what can you do that will help you become a more authentic leader and cultivate trust?

Here are my 7 tips to become an authentic leader

1. Practice Self-Awareness. Learn to tune into yourself. Understand how your emotions trigger your behaviours. Observe your behaviour, actions, thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself. Which situations make you feel a little uncomfortable and why? What situations do you thrive in? Try and observe when you are wearing a mask. 2. Focus on your values. What are the non-negotiables that you stand for? What are your fundamental beliefs, qualities and behaviours that define you as a person & leader? Ensure that all your words and actions are in alignment with these values so that your team gets to know what you stand for and can rely on it. 3. Learn and understand your strengths. What are your natural talents. What comes easy to you? You can do a CliftonStrengths or VIA strengths assessment. Understand how your strengths can be applied to your role and your leadership. Communicate your strengths so your team understands what you can support them with. 4. Find a support network. This could be in form of a mentor, a coach or a colleague or peer. Someone you can trust and confine in. Someone who understands and knows the real you and who will give you honest feedback, advise and support. 5. Develop your EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Your key asset as an effective leader is emotional intelligence. It is the ability to understand and effectively manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is your ability to motivate yourself and to build strong relationships with the people in your professional and personal life. Emotional intelligence helps you to build resilience and confidence and foster trust in your relationships with others. All of which supports you in showing up and thriving as your authentic self. 6. Spend time getting to know your team. What do they like, what are their values, what do they like to do, who are their family, what are their biggest challenges and success stories. Spend time and see your team members as people with emotions, fears, doubt and personal stories. 7. Regular self-reflection. Check in regularly to make sure you are still in alignment with your true self. Be kind to yourself.

Final thoughts

Are you ready to be your own authentic leader and Lead Like YOU! I’m here to guide and support you on your leadership journey! Use the above tips you help you become a more authentic leader! Of course, you want more guidance, please see my range of offers for leaders!