Can you be yourself and be a credible leader?
Revealing your authentic self and feeling like a credible leader can be an interesting dynamic at times. A client said recently:
"𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝑰’𝒎 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒔 𝒂 𝒃𝒐𝒔𝒔. 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒓, 𝑰 𝒅𝒐𝒏’𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝑰’𝒎 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒂𝒄𝒕, 𝒐𝒓 𝒃𝒆”.
On one hand, you don’t want to put on an act, it’s just exhausting. On the other hand, you want to be respected and effective in your role.
Firstly, about authenticity:
Know that openness, vulnerability, empathy, humility and humour are all traits of a great leader.
- Direction: Providing clarity about the future and your teams' role in it.
- Emotional regulation: Responding, rather than reacting
- Expectations: Seting the scene for communications, behaviour and other norms
- Boundaries: Ringfencing your time, energy and needs. To lead well, you need space to get the important stuff done and stay well.
You can and should absolutely be yourself. Credibility comes from setting the tone, direction, expectations and boundaries.