Over the past 12 years, I’ve coached many newly promoted senior executives. Having achieved their ambition, they have every intention of doing a better job than their boss. My brief is often along the lines of: “I’ve inherited a bad team, they’re not motivated, not performing, please help me sort them out…”
As I take the new leader through coaching and the resulting self-awareness that develops, they come to realise the problem isn’t really their team - the solution lies with how they are managed. A newly promoted leader will frequently (and often subconsciously) take on the persona of their organisation’s leadership style. And this can result in them being inauthentic.
Mark is a successful senior leader in the NHS. It’s a challenging environment and not for the faint-hearted. With such a diverse organisation there are many stakeholders, where Mark leads conflicting and politically driven agendas.
What is it that makes Mark successful? He is authentic. He knows himself: no falsehoods, no ego. He has a realistic and objective understanding of his capabilities and limitations.
Mark has worked hard to utilise his strengths, knows what motivates him, and doesn’t compromise his values. He understands this is the foundation that directs how he thinks, gives him the ability to adapt how he communicates, behaves and makes decisions. These direct the habitual actions he takes and his results.
He prioritises time to build rapport. He is humble, and doesn’t judge others who don’t agree with him. He gives credit to others. When Mark talks, others want to listen. His seniors, peers and team enjoy spending time with him.
He influences with integrity, but doesn’t manipulate. He is flexible but firm when needed. He’s worked hard to develop his emotional intelligence, and is therefore more resilient. He understands the power of managing himself to be positive and proactive. Through being authentic, he’s established trust, respect and credibility. He is a successful leader.
Being authentic starts with knowing yourself. Are you willing to hold up a mirror and discover the real you? To fully learn how to utilise your strengths and discover your blind spots? Authentic leadership is everything, and quite simply there is no other way.
Jennifer Baker is a professionally trained executive coach with a strategic business background