How can you be­come a more au­then­tic leader? by Si­mon Hay­ward

Authen­tic­ity is be­com­ing more and more of a prized at­tribute in busi­ness to­day. The global eco­nomic cri­sis re­sulted in a break­down in trust in many large or­gan­i­sa­tions. Both em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers now ex­pect more trans­parency. We want lead­ers who are ope

Business First - - CONTENTS - Dr Si­mon Hay­ward is founder and CEO of Cir­rus, a lead­er­ship con­sul­tancy, and has a wealth of strate­gic lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence gained over 30 years. He has de­vel­oped lead­er­ship strat­egy and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes across Europe, Asia and North Ame

An au­then­tic leader can be trusted to be­have con­sis­tently and in line with what they say is im­por­tant. They also re­cruit and recog­nise peo­ple who demon­strate pos­i­tive val­ues in or­der to build a val­ues-based cul­ture. This cul­ture is of­ten re­flected in the char­ac­ter of the se­nior lead­ers and the prin­ci­ples on which they make de­ci­sions, as well as the de­gree to which they fos­ter open and trans­par­ent re­la­tion­ships. Authen­tic­ity en­ables you to cre­ate trust. It is most ef­fec­tive when or­gan­i­sa­tions in­sist on val­ues-based lead­er­ship across the busi­ness. Lead­ers at the top are in­flu­en­tial role mod­els. How they be­have in­flu­ences other lead­ers and man­agers at all lev­els.

The char­ac­ter­is­tics of an au­then­tic and con­nected or­gan­i­sa­tion: • Lead­ers at all lev­els build open and trust­ing re­la­tion­ships with all col­leagues. • Lead­ers and col­leagues have strong self-aware­ness and emo­tional in­tel­li­gence. • Lead­ers act, and en­cour­age oth­ers to act, with an aware­ness of what is hap­pen­ing now. • Lead­ers and col­leagues al­ways act in the best in­ter­ests of the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of an au­then­tic leader: • Gen­uine role model: the leader’s be­hav­iour demon­strates the val­ues ev­ery day. These lead­ers are in­tol­er­ant of be­hav­iour that demon­strates the op­po­site of the val­ues. They have a strong moral com­pass and un­der­stand that ac­tions speak more loudly than words. • Self-aware­ness: the leader is in tune with his or her own emo­tions and is able to man­age them ef­fec­tively so that their emo­tional re­ac­tions to events don’t in­ter­rupt pos­i­tive be­hav­iours in­vol­un­tar­ily. • Open and trans­par­ent re­la­tion­ships: the leader en­cour­ages a high de­gree of hon­esty based on mu­tual re­spect with oth­ers. • Bal­anced pro­cess­ing of in­for­ma­tion: the leader seeks an ob­jec­tive per­spec­tive and to make sense of each sit­u­a­tion in an un­bi­ased way so that they can en­cour­age bal­anced de­ci­sion mak­ing and ac­tion. Pur­pose and di­rec­tion A clear sense of pur­pose and di­rec­tion is im­por­tant. It helps to en­gage em­ploy­ees and to align ev­ery­one. Pur­pose and di­rec­tion go to­gether be­cause they are about what the or­gan­i­sa­tion does and why it is sig­nif­i­cant. They de­fine and give em­pha­sis to its mean­ing in the world, which in turn gives the peo­ple who work there a shared sense of do­ing some­thing worth­while, of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. Authen­tic­ity is more about how the busi­ness op­er­ates. It re­lates more to the val­ues and the cul­ture. Val­ues and be­hav­iour If se­nior lead­ers talk about par­tic­u­lar val­ues but do not live them in prac­tice, those val­ues will never be­come in­grained across the busi­ness. Any dis­con­nect will be high­lighted in the ev­ery­day way lead­ers make de­ci­sions, man­age per­for­mance, pro­mote peo­ple and carry out other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The dif­fer­ence be­tween what the lead­ers say and what they do dis­cour­ages trust among col­leagues.

A com­mon fea­ture among many busi­nesses I meet in my work is this lack of trust among col­leagues in the se­nior lead­ers of their or­gan­i­sa­tion. If peo­ple hear one thing and see another played out in prac­tice, they are un­likely to be­lieve the words or the un­der­ly­ing in­ten­tions of the lead­ers in­volved. Trust mat­ters, and is a foun­da­tion stone for ef­fec­tive dis­trib­uted lead­er­ship.

Mak­ing this ex­plicit is both im­por­tant and very help­ful. Un­less you com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively with peo­ple across the busi­ness to de­velop and sus­tain a good level of un­der­stand­ing about what val­ues you share and what be­hav­iours are there­fore val­ued or not wanted, col­leagues have no ref­er­ence point. In one client I work with, the CEO re­placed two suc­cess­ful Board mem­bers over a two-year pe­riod be­cause they were not liv­ing the val­ues of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. De­spite re­peated chal­lenges from the CEO, the two ex­ec­u­tives chose to con­tinue to be­have in ways that demon­strated a moral prag­ma­tism that the CEO found un­ac­cept­able. The sig­nal to ev­ery­one else in the busi­ness was clear: we take our val­ues se­ri­ously and they are non ne­go­tiable, even if you are per­form­ing well in other ways. Build­ing open re­la­tion­ships Open, trans­par­ent and trust­ing re­la­tion­ships are the fun­da­men­tal en­abler for a suc­cess­ful, con­nected or­gan­i­sa­tion. When these rela-

tion­ships are in place, lead­ers can give au­thor­ity to oth­ers to take de­ci­sions and make things hap­pen. Oth­ers feel com­fort­able and con­fi­dent to take that au­thor­ity and its as­so­ci­ated risks.

Per­sonal and col­lec­tive authen­tic­ity is a pre-req­ui­site for the qual­ity of trust that is re­quired for con­nected re­la­tion­ships to work in prac­tice. Au­then­tic lead­er­ship sug­gests that lead­ers need to have high lev­els of self-aware­ness, a strong moral com­pass, the abil­ity to make sense of in­for­ma­tion in a bal­anced way, and have open and trans­par­ent re­la­tion­ships.

Lead­ers who build re­la­tion­ships of trust and re­spect en­gen­der stronger com­mit­ment among the peo­ple they lead than those who do not. Lead­er­ship based on bal­anced judge­ment and fair­ness of de­ci­sion-mak­ing en­gages col­leagues and en­cour­ages them to de­velop ef­fec­tive, con­nected re­la­tion­ships across the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It of­fers a be­havioural frame­work to guide peo­ple to achieve the pur­pose and di­rec­tion in a prin­ci­pled and sat­is­fy­ing way. Con­nected Lead­er­ship My own re­search has found that authen­tic­ity is a key fac­tor of ‘con­nected’ lead­er­ship. I com­bined this re­search with my ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with may global client in my re­cently-pub­lished book, Con­nected Lead­er­ship: How to build a more ag­ile, cus­tomer-driven busi­ness. To­day’s most suc­cess­ful lead­ers con­nect peo­ple across the or­gan­i­sa­tion to strate­gic goals and to cus­tomers by de­vel­op­ing a shared agenda through pur­pose, di­rec­tion and val­ues. They de­volve de­ci­sion-mak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­cour­age a cul­ture of col­lab­o­ra­tion and team­work. They stim­u­late a high de­gree of em­pow­er­ment and trust that each per­son and team will per­form to the best of their abil­ity. They in­crease agility through de­vel­op­ing a learn­ing cul­ture that drives in­no­va­tion and ruth­less pri­ori­ti­sa­tion.

Be­com­ing a more au­then­tic, con­nected leader of­ten in­volves let­ting go of in­grained, hi­er­ar­chi­cal ways of work­ing. This can be quite daunt­ing for lead­ers who are more used to a com­mand-and-con­trol style of man­age­ment. The re­wards, how­ever, are sig­nif­i­cant.

Dr Si­mon Hay­ward CEO, Cir­rus

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