In today’s rapidly changing work landscape, authentic leadership is not just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental requirement for success. Authentic leaders inspire, empower, and foster genuine connections with their teams. But what does it take to be an authentic leader in the modern workforce, where continuous learning, effective feedback, and intergenerational dynamics come into play?
Embracing Continuous Learning
One of the cornerstones of authentic leadership is continuous learning. As Dr. Dewett, aptly puts it, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” Embracing growth and lifelong learning is not just a personal commitment; it’s a leadership imperative. Authentic leaders understand that knowledge is ever evolving, and they encourage their teams to adopt a growth mindset.
Continuous learning doesn’t only involve formal education; it encompasses self-awareness and humility. Genuine growth comes from recognizing our limitations. Authentic leaders cultivate humility, acknowledging that they don’t have all the answers. This humility allows them to approach situations with an open mind, actively seeking input from diverse perspectives.
Balancing Candor and Kindness in Feedback
Authentic leadership also hinges on effective communication, especially when it comes to providing feedback. Candor and kindness might seem like opposing forces, but they can coexist in feedback conversations. Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor (check out the book summary), emphasizes the importance of “ruinous empathy,” where leaders prioritize kindness at the expense of candid feedback. On the other hand, “obnoxious aggression” arises when candor overshadows empathy.
Scott advocates for “radical candor,” a sweet spot where leaders can be both caring and honest. Authentic leaders understand that providing constructive feedback is an act of kindness, as it helps team members grow and develop. They create an environment where honest conversations are welcomed, and feedback is a continuous process, not just an annual review.
The modern workplace is a melting pot of generations, each with its own set of values, expectations, and communication styles. Authentic leaders recognize the importance of bridging generational gaps.
Sara Holtz, host of the “Advice to My Younger Me” podcast, emphasizes the need for empathy and active listening when navigating intergenerational dynamics. Authentic leaders try to understand the perspectives of different generations, valuing the wisdom of experienced employees while also embracing the fresh ideas and tech-savviness of younger team members.
Building this bridge is also important when it comes to identifying the unique ways in which different generations view work. While Baby Boomers often view work as a means to an end, a consistent and stable way to earn a living and provide for your family over the course of a lifetime, younger generations tend to value purpose, meaning, balance and input. Work isn’t just a place to clock-in, endure frustrating dynamics for 8 hours, and then clock out.
Recognizing these differences in value is important, as it can help leaders balance the culture and expectations that different employees have.
Strategies for Authentic Leadership
Embracing continuous learning, mastering the art of feedback, and navigating generational differences are key aspects to developing an authentic leadership style is to lead by example.
Authentic leadership starts with you. Be genuine, humble, and empathetic in your interactions. Model the behavior you want to see in your team.
In the modern workplace, authentic leadership is not a luxury but a necessity. Embracing continuous learning, mastering the art of feedback, and navigating generational differences are essential components of authentic leadership. By cultivating these skills and leading by example, you can inspire your team, drive productivity, and create a workplace culture that thrives in an ever-evolving world.
I Power Seeds
Here are our takeaways and thoughts - pause and reflect, then nourish and grow!
Radical Candor is a great book and the strategies and examples have helped me become a better leader by dealing with things in the right moment as well as with kindness and being genuine. It goes a long way and I have received incredible feedback from my team members on how much they appreciate my style of leadership.
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