In the information age, the words on which leaders so often rely to assert their leadership. They do not have the desired impact. Large organizations find it difficult to develop, fight to create a “disruption” before being “disrupted” and look with excitement for the fundamentals that may give rise to new ideas. But they are often helpless when it comes to communicating guidance and valuing people. This lack of connection contributes to the erosion of confidence. A confidence which is essential to encourage the risk-taking required to innovate. Here we will know How to develop authentic leadership.
The new CEO of a global consulting company wanted to connect with its employees. He share his vision and communicate the culture he wanted to apply to his organization. With the best of intentions, he sent a monthly newsletter. After a while, he measured the results and discovered that 90% of people had never even opened it.
By combining words, actions, work environments, and experiences with authenticity. Managers can truly create a culture of trust that employees aspire to today.
Why develop authentic leadership
Lack of loyalty
A lack of confidence is highlighted by the low loyalty of employees to their organizations. The qualifier used by PwC for vintages, which will constitute three-quarters of the world’s workforce by 2025 is “fidelity-light.
– More than 25% expect to have six or more employers (during their careers)
– 38% currently in the office say that they are actively looking for a new job
– Only 18% expect to stay long term with an employer
To improve their profit margins, many large organizations have adopted a cost reduction approach. Job cuts, the reduction of retirement benefits. Especially in some Anglo-Saxon countries where companies used to take up their employees’ retirement savings plans. The rise in automation fueled workers‘ anxiety and a growing lack of confidence in companies. The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that trust is a value in crisis all over the world and that the credibility of CEOs has fallen to an unprecedented level.
At the same time, engagement issues continue to weigh on businesses. The Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace investigated wages in 20 countries. His discoveries refer to similar research carried out by an institute like Gallup. More than a third of workers are disengaged and another third of employees are somewhere in the middle. No will to harm or desire to help their business move forward. Organizations can no longer use cost-cutting to ensure their growth. Today’s complex and entangled problems require committed employees who have the power to collaborate, create and innovate.
Tips: How to develop authentic leadership
Organizational leaders need to take a new approach. Take a more authentic style to rebuild confidence, foster higher levels of engagement and build the skills of employees. Iconic leaders with legions of followers do so with words, behaviors, and symbols. All working together to deliver a powerful message. Bill George, Harvard Business School professor, and author of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, likes to tell the story of Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. The latter grew up dodging creditors after his father lost his job following an accident. Decades later, Starbucks became the first American company to provide health care to everyone who works there, including part-time workers. “Authentic leaders are sincere and loyal people to what they believe,” Bill George told HBR. “They have courage, compassion, empathy – qualities of this nature – and they build strong relationships in the long run.
Identify hidden barriers
Building trust, loyalty, and connection require thoughtful and intentional actions. Many of the traditional structures in the business world create unintentional barriers to authentic leadership. Leaders must manage relationships that go beyond organizational and geographic boundaries – amplifying the need to be mobile and away from the office. And they have to quickly immerse themselves in a wide range of topics every day, which can lead to information overload and create significant challenges to reaching all levels of the organization.
Our research also tells us that, while the ways of working change, the work environment does not change. Most managers still work in traditional individual offices. A leader told me a far too common story about how people had to go through six doors before reaching their office. This is a clear disconnection between the words that managers use to describe the corporate culture they want and the message that their workspace sends.
To regain confidence and loyalty and increase engagement, leaders need to take a more human-centered approach, focused on authenticity and accessibility. And, with words and actions, the work environment can be an important factor in allowing behavioral changes. This behavior over time creates a culture.
In contrast, leaders like Richard Branson, Virgin’s boss, are pushing people to make big decisions. Richard Branson spoke about the importance of policies that treat people as “capable adults” – like offering unlimited leave, providing integrated technologies, and promoting well-being in the workplace. “If standard working hours no longer apply, then why are working conditions standard? “He writes.
Use signal power -develop authentic leadership
Richard Branson rarely wears a tie, his style is rather “casual. It’s easy to find images of other CEOs from Silicon Valley – Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook is one – who subscribe to a similar strategy. With this natural attitude, they are very different from all these managers who, by their dress and their closed attitude, consciously send powerful signals that can portray them as inaccessible and out of reach.
A title, an office, and an executive assistant are all elements that shape an intimidating image. Managers must help break down the barriers automatically put in place by the structure of the business. Does your society encourage people to dress comfortably? Do leaders embody this idea or are they just talking about it? Richard Branson says he goes through the corridors of the company by cutting people’s ties! It may be a bit extreme, but the message is clear: at work, we want you to be your “authentic self.
The work environment can also send a strong signal. Limit physical separation by eliminating barriers between managers and employees. How many floors does someone have to travel to join you? How often are they likely to see leaders work, collaborate, and think? A Paris-based software imagery world leader was looking for ways to encourage collaboration with leadership, but the leaders were all seated in individual offices on the top floor of the building. Each door was equipped with a digital coding security system; and once this barrier was crossed, visitors were faced with an assistant monitoring the next level of security. How often do you think employees dare to turn to managers, even in shared environments such as the entrance hall or the cafeteria, knowing that leaders have taken so much care to isolate themselves?
Once in the same room, what signals are sent? See the difference between a traditional meeting room with a long table where everyone faces the manager who organized the meeting and a similar space with a right angle office that allows people to sit next to each other and work shoulder to shoulder. Which environment is most likely to encourage the free expression of ideas? Does anyone have a better chair than the others or does everyone have chairs offering the same level of comfort, appearance, and quality? Does anyone “chair” the discussion or does everyone have equal access to technology and whiteboards?
Take the pulse – develop authentic leadership
Leaders can reconcile confidentiality and accessibility. By staying hidden on the upper floors, the leaders protect their meadow and their secrets. But they also encourage other people to protect them by not disclosing bad news, and sometimes essential news. By isolating themselves from the rest of their employees, how can leaders gauge the morale of employees, their reactions and concerns, if not through the prism of others or during time-spaced interactions? How can a leader feel the pulse, the pace of the organization, his dreams, his worries, and his emerging ideas?
By working on the same floor as their employees, managers are more likely to feel the pulse of the organization. To maintain privacy, it is possible to create a variety of spaces that managers can use depending on the type of work they need to do. Leaders should allow themselves to be sometimes “interrupted” during the day. These moments can be orchestrated by the choice of where to work at specific times of the day or on the contrary by sending signals which means that this is not the time to be disturbed. The more the organization and its employees discover how managers work and behave authentically, the more the level of understanding and comfort will rise and create a true culture of trust.
Finally, as leaders, we need to provide a framework for authenticity, and sort of shape it. Leaders should eat in the cafe where everyone eats. Behave the same way as people who work in the business. Show proximity by organizing meetings in a social space such as a cafe or a relaxation room . By being seen in a more relaxed environment, leaders move away from formal signs in the hierarchy and appear more humane.
To innovate and get ideas, employees need to feel safe when conducting experiments, having failures, making decisions, or intentional risks. Innovation is the result of interaction and collaboration between more and more people with unique skills and their leaders. A corporate culture that fosters trust between employees who are asked to innovate and their leaders requires a visible change in leadership behavior.
Creating authentic experiences will push employees to adopt new behaviors more inclined to cross new borders, have new ways of thinking and doing, and finally obtain better commercial results. The Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace has highlighted a clear link between the most successful companies and the high level of commitment of a large part of their workforce.
By combining words, actions, environments, and experiences with authenticity, leaders can truly create the culture of trust that employees aspire to today. Only then can we re-hire employees, restore confidence and loyalty, and create a team ready to take the risks necessary for innovation and growth.
Thanks to emotional intelligence, rely on your emotions and the different facets of your personality to develop authentic leadership a sincere and natural leadership.