Business results are always preceded by a performance culture. I’ve shared well-researched insights over the last few months on how to build a performance culture through Authentic Leadership. This type of leadership INSPIRES a culture of performance through the management of results rather than people, time, or tasks. There’s a difference between activity and impact. Organizations led by Authentic Leaders are able to generate higher levels of employee engagement and commitment by focusing more on impact. The Great Place To Work Institute has proven that a trust culture (trust between managers and employees) is the primary driver of the very best workplaces and these companies experience above-average financial returns.
Employees in every sector and across all generations selectively engage with their company based on how much they trust the company itself, the decisions executives make, and how much they trust their immediate team and manager. In my research, I’ve found that Authentic Leaders demonstrate a level of personal character that inspires performance rather than demands it. The question then is, how do you create more Authentic Leaders in your organization?
Here are 5 proven methodologies for finding and creating Authentic Leaders:
1. Expect to Find Them, But Look Carefully
Authentic Leaders don’t brag, so they are difficult to spot at first. They are incessantly results-focused and hold themselves to a high standard of excellence. As natural problem solvers, they are keenly focused on the problems that need to be solved, which can sometimes be interpreted as “complaining,” when in reality they just want to do great work. Conversely, they DO NOT make excuses for their own performance issues and accept responsibility readily. They just want to be set up for success. Authentic Leaders are consummate and self-motivated learners and love to learn new things. They exist in ALL levels of management, not just at the top. So don’t just look in the senior management ranks. It is actually easier to look to the front-line staff as they more readily stand out from their peer group.
2. Model Transparency
Authentic Leaders will respond quickly to transparency in their top leaders. Too often as leaders, we fear being seen as “weak” if we admit to mistakes or if we openly acknowledge challenges. But transparent communication is exactly what will be attractive to the Authentic Leader. The truth is, they abhor the “BS” style of management embedded in most organizations and respect those leaders who openly admit challenges. In addition, the Authentic Leader prefers to be part of the solution. So as challenges are discussed openly, they will reward you with higher levels of commitment as they strive to be part of the solution once they know the executive team is being real.
3. INSPIRE Performance by Tapping into Motivation
Authentic leaders create more Authentic Leaders in all levels of management. They do so by igniting the qualities of perseverance in the teams they manage. Frequently, these leaders tap into employees’ passions as their primary methodology for problem solving. They do this naturally and respond to this type of inspirational leadership themselves. There is an indescribable tenor to the type of leader who inspires performance and simultaneously drives results. From the sports arena to the start-up to the well-known C-suite legend, what translates mediocrity into company success is the ability to link personal motivation to common goals. Rather than generating more revenue, talk about creating better products. Rather than obsessing over profits, challenge your team to serve clients better. Keep your communication focused on WHY we want better performance and how all stakeholders will benefit. Forget about being perfect, and focus on being passionate about the bigger themes that everyone cares about.
4. Reward Performance & Remove Political Roadblocks
Most organizations are unnecessarily bogged down in political roadblocks and gamesmanship, and true Authentic Leaders HATE this part of their job. Rather than annual raises and profit sharing, these types of leaders want to be rewarded for team and company success. Tie rewards to team performance, but more importantly, blow through the roadblocks and cut the political BS and these leaders will feel unleashed.
5. Instill Collaboration Rather Than Control
To create more Authentic Leaders in your organization, stop trying to control and micromanage. Companies that retain top talent have one thing in common – trust. Trying to control key leaders does not instill trust. Create trust by sharing information willingly, making fair and equitable decisions, over-communicating, and encouraging others to be themselves. Also look for win-win opportunities that encourage collaboration and inspired action. Role model and show them how to lead this way, and they will reward you with inspiring the performance of the teams in their care.
Although it takes time and effort to create and foster Authentic Leadership inside of an organization, it’s well worth it for a healthy culture and improved financial performance as demonstrated by the Great Place To Work Institute.
If you want to achieve business results faster by hiring more Authentic Leaders from outside your company, next month I’ll outline a specific strategy to attract Authentic Leaders TO your company.