Overcoming barriers to authentic leadership

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With the ongoing pandemic and the resulting series of COVID-19 surges, employees are getting exhausted, anxious, irritable and disengaged. Millions of workdays are lost due to workplace stress that exacts a huge burden on most organizations in terms of employee health and business productivity. Thus, the effectiveness of leaders addressing this issue will be critical in the next few months to ensure organizational continuity and success.

But a higher level of leadership is needed in these types of situations. Now more than ever, we need authentic leaders who are self-aware and genuine. And additionally, they are mission-driven and focused on results. Most of all, authentic leaders lead also with their hearts, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show their emotions and vulnerability, and they connect with their employees. They communicate in a direct manner, but it’s done with empathy. Hence, leaders must overcome barriers to authentic leadership in order to motivate and inspire their employees.

But what are these barriers, and how do we overcome them? We asked our resource person on leadership and sales excellence, Jeff Chua, to list and explain this for us:

Barrier No. 1: Only 25% of leaders are self-aware

Many leaders underestimate the complexity of being a good leader while simultaneously overestimating their own leadership skills. In psychology, they call this the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. The research in this area finds that people who are the least skilled in a particular area are most likely to overestimate their abilities. It is still something organizations and leaders must confront. Organizations are filled with leaders who are likely well intentioned yet overestimate their ability to lead.

Barrier No. 2: Not letting your team do its job

This occurs when things are not going well. The first solution that comes to mind is for the leader to personally do the tasks. While this may work in the short term, it is not ideal for the long term in terms of organizational success. This situation has many names: micromanaging, control freak, inability to delegate, etc. Being an authentic leader requires the ability to enable and develop an environment where others can succeed. This means you have to get out of the way and let your teams do their work.

Barrier No. 3: Ignoring the value of mistakes

Authentic leaders are aware of their strengths, limitations and emotions. Most importantly, they also show their real selves to their followers. They don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They fully understand that to be a great leader is an endless journey where you have to continuously learn from your mistakes.

Mistakes should be viewed as necessary for growth. They are signposts on the learning journey. I worked with a client who was experiencing difficulties in leading his team and business, and he wanted to move past them as quickly as possible. When you find yourself feeling low about your leadership, don’t push it into the background. Rather, embrace the opportunity for growth, reflect on how to avoid similar potholes in the future, and learn how to navigate and overcome the current challenges.

Chua talks more about leadership through the online self-paced course titled “Motivating and Inspiring your Team to Achieve Greater Results.” This easy-to-access and the easy-to-understand course is brought to you by ThINQ by Inquirer Academy. Visit inquireracademy.com to enroll or to learn more.

For your other online learning needs, Inquirer Academy could assist you in designing and facilitating a virtual workshop, a webinar, or a self-paced online course for your organization.

Write [email protected], or send an SMS to 0919-3428667 and 0998-9641731. The author is executive director of Inquirer Academy.

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