Have you ever been told to fake it until you make it? I’m sure that a lot of you have heard that before.

The thing though, and the problem with faking it until we make it or wearing a mask is that we can’t really keep that up. And then the real problem here lies, that the people that you lead, they wouldn’t really know the real you. And they will see through that mask. And that will lead to a lack of trust because they don’t really know who you are.
Today, we are talking about four big misconceptions of authentic leadership and learning how to remove that mask and lead authentically.
In this episode, I talk all about:
  • Four big myths of authentic leadership
  • How authentic leadership doesn’t equal oversharing unnecessarily
  • How authentic leadership is not a permission slip to be rude
  • A new approach to finding your unique leadership style

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    Transcript:

    Anne: Hi everyone. Before we get into this episode on busting some misconceptions about authentic leadership. I just want to say hello and welcome back. I have been on a little break in my podcast because I took a little break out from my business because I had my second baby this year.

    So 2021 has been a wild ride for sure. And I took a few months off my business. But now I’m back in full swing. I started back at the end of 2021 and now in 2022, it’s all hands on deck and my podcast and YouTube channels are being reactivated. So welcome back to the first episode of season number three. I’m so excited to be here, please connect and reach out and let me know how you’ve been going all this time.

    And thanks so much for returning and listening again. And let’s go into the episode.

     Have you ever been told to fake it until you make it? I’m sure that a lot of you have heard that before. And sometimes we say this because we want to help ourselves to kind of make up for a bit of a lack of confidence or when we step into something new, a new situation, something that we’ve never done before, and we just a bit nervous about it.

    So we put on a mask, we put on our armor as Brene Brown would say, and then we get ready to step into the arena. And in short, like in short term, this can actually help, right. It can help us to feel a bit more confident, can help us to, pretend and kind of trick ourselves into being confident enough to take that first step.

    The thing though, and the problem with faking it until we make it or wearing a mask is that we can’t really keep that up. Because it’s really exhausting to pretend to be something that we’re not, to laugh about something that’s not funny for us, to pretend that we fit in, to pretend that we are like anybody else just to fit in or somehow feel like we’ve got what it takes.

    And over time it will really wear you down. If you have to continue to wear your mask. And then the real problem here lies, that the people that you lead, they wouldn’t really know the real you. And they will see through that mask. So they will see over time that you are just putting on a mask and that you’re faking it.

    And that will lead to a lack of trust because they don’t really know who you are. They don’t really know how you show up what you stand for, what they can count on you for. So we want to learn to remove that mask to become more of who we really are to be more authentic

     But authentic leadership does not mean that we let it all out that we are, you know, we show everything, we show our bare souls and we are so vulnerable that we share our intimate details. That’s not what authentic leadership is about. And there’s a few more misconceptions, four to be exact that we will be looking at today and kind of clean up those misconceptions so that you start to see what authentic leadership is not. And we can then learn to step into what authentic leadership is. And if you want to learn more about your authentic leadership style, then you can head over to annekoopmann.com/authenticleader, and do my little quiz to see what’s your authentic leadership style and how you can step into your authentic leadership style and lead and communicate from being more yourself.

    So head over to annekoopman.com/authenticleader. And you will find that quiz. It’s just a few questions. And then I will share with you some amazing resources for you to step into your authentic leadership, but let’s get into this episode and let’s look at the first misconception.

    Okay, misconception number one is that authentic leaders have to stay in just one leadership style. And this is probably one of the most common things that I hear. And it’s simply not true because we all have different facets of our personalities and also there are so many different situations and circumstances that we find ourselves in, in our leadership role. Different people that we talk to different situations, different environments, different things that happen in our business. And they do require you to adapt your style and your approach to the most appropriate behavior in that situation, whilst you remain true to yourself, true to your values and true to who you are and what you stand for as a leader, you can still change your approach.

    What I mean by that is that sometimes you will have to step into a more authority driven leadership style. You have to take command. If things are tough, you will have to make the decisions for your team members. Because if everything is in chaos, they need you to be the stable component and to make the calls and make the tough decisions sometimes.

    Sometimes you want to be more a coaching leader and you want to help your team members to step into the solutions themselves and to really figure out the solutions and how they can go forward by themselves, to have some breakthroughs in their mindset.

     So you have to adapt and be a little bit flexible while staying true to yourself.

    The second misconception is that authentic leaders does have to be bluntly honest at all times. And you know, authentic leadership is not an excuse to be rude and to put harm on other people. It’s simply not. It does not mean you always have to be bluntly honest. There are different ways to go about it. There are different circumstances.

    And again, you have to adapt your messaging to the people that you talk to. Still, the importance is to stay true to who you are and true to your values and lead with your strength and use your strengths to set up that message in an authentic way. But it’s not about just saying it as it is.

    In an Forbes article, that’s called the dark side of authentic leadership. They actually call it out and they say that some leaders feel so entitled about where they are, their position and where they got to that they think they don’t have to do that. They can just be who they are. They earn their space.

    They don’t have to adapt what they say. The problem though, there is though that they will harm and hurt other people along the way they will lose trust along the way people might respect them out of fear. Yeah, because they don’t want to be shouted at, or they don’t want to be put on the spot or be shamed, but it’s not the real trust.

    So people won’t decide to follow you to to do whatever you say because they admire your leadership. They will follow you because they’re scared. And that’s not the type of leader that we want to be. We want to be courageous leaders that lead with vulnerability that lead with trust, and that really get the best out of our people and don’t scare them into actions.

     There’s a few things to keep in mind when we talk about honesty and authentic leadership. One is to look at, when would you act against your own values if you weren’t to speak the truth? Yeah. Sometimes if we hold back because we think we can’t be honest, we’re actually hurting our own values and that will make us suffer in the long run.

    So when do you have to speak up to stay true to your values and not accept behavior or something that you see that goes absolute against your values?

     Then it’s important to consider when could be a good time to be vulnerable. You don’t want to share everything all the time because it’s not always the right time and moment to share and be vulnerable, but sometimes sharing your vulnerability, sharing your struggles, sharing your stories will help you actually to build connections or to be relatable, or to maybe give solutions to the people that you lead.

    And then there are moments when you just have to consider how much does your team need to know in this moment? Do I need to protect them from something? Is there something going on that will make them nervous that will make them anxious and then they won’t feel safe anymore to do the work that they need to do.

    Because as a leader, you also have the role to protect them. So it’s quite difficult sometimes to navigate that, to understand how much can I say. And how much do I want to keep from them to keep them safe. But at the same time, I don’t want to hold back information. So you just have to work on your message there, and really adapt the message to the people that you talk to and decide how much you tell them and how much you hold back to protect them.

    So it’s about your integrity and it’s about what you think is best for them in the moment. Not best for you necessarily.

    The third misconception is that authentic leaders have to be an open book. And that’s closely related to being honest all the time. So while we say that authentic leaders are vulnerable and they are sharing their stories and they share a little bit more of who they are with their people to be relatable, to build trust and build relationships, you don’t have to disclose your whole private life.

     You can be authentic and still have and protect your personal lives. But it’s obviously very powerful, if you can share personal stories and anecdotes, personal experiences, or if you can share a little bit of vulnerability in certain moments, but there’s a healthy balance that is important to look at. 

    Sometimes it’s important to keep a little distance. Let’s say the company, the team is going through something really tough and they need you to be that leader that keeps them safe. They need to see hope, they need to see stability so that they still feel safe and can do their best work and don’t feel stressed out.

    So sometimes you have to manage your emotions and self-regulate that by using your emotional intelligence to maintain a confidence when things are tough so that your team can be at their best. In that moment, it might not be best for you to share that you’re insecure and unsure yourself because that would make them feel very unsure and panic.

    If they see their leader losing it too. If you though need to talk to someone about that, because you want to share it with someone, find peers or find a coach or find someone else, a mentor that you can talk to about that, because obviously you need to manage your own securities and worries as well.

    But sometimes it’s important to keep it a little bit from your team so that they feel safe. Also sometimes, you know, you want to obviously protect your professional brand. So while you’re going through a really tough time in your life, it might not always be the best to share that out loud while you haven’t worked it through yet while you’re still in it.

    Because again, it might make people start to doubt you or they might struggle to trust you in that moment. However, once you’ve worked through that situation, once you’ve worked through it and found your solutions and came out the other end, it can be so powerful to share that story, to be relatable, to show you that you know, that you have managed to get through a tough time and they can learn from it properly.

    They can start to see and get inspiration from that same situation from your story. So it can be really powerful to share your experiences and also how you overcame challenges. For example, roughly two years ago, the pandemic hit and everybody had to start working from home and had to juggle personal life, family life while working from home, it was very relatable.

    It was very beneficial and relatable for leaders to share their struggles. Yeah, It was very nice and warming to see leaders sharing their videos or experiences of their toddler running into the office or their kid walking past the camera. Yeah. So that made us all feel like we’re in this together.

    Like they’re struggling too. It’s okay. I can feel safe, by doing my best, being at home, navigating, maybe a home where I don’t have a home office and they’re noisy kids in the background. So it can really, really be powerful if you share that so that your team starts to feel safe. They can be vulnerable too, and they can really show up as their best and feel safe being the way they are and being in that environment that they’re in. So there are moments where it’s completely beneficial and magical actually to be vulnerable and share your struggles as well, or say, I don’t know this, I haven’t read this book. I don’t know the next step. Let’s figure it out together.

    But then there are moments where it’s important that you do keep that a little bit to yourself to make sure that your team feels safe. So it’s always important to understand and be intentional with being honest, with being open, with being vulnerable, that’s the key to powerful, authentic leadership.

    It’s not about blurting it all out. It’s actually about being intentional. When am I going to open up? What story am I going to share? And why am I doing this, to not just do it for your own sake to protect your team aswell 

    And the fourth misconception about authentic leadership is that authentic leaders have to know exactly who they are. But none of us know who we are. It’s a journey we always continuously develop.

    We will not have all the answers straight away, but it’s important that we are self-aware, that we look on the inside, that we start to identify, what do I stand for? What are my values? What motivates me? What is it that I’m here to do? What drives me and why am I doing the things that I’m doing. Starting to lead with integrity, showing up to your values.

    That’s what is key, why it’s learning from experiences, learning from other people, learning from the people that we meet, owning up to mistakes and learning from those reflecting on what we can do different. We are on a journey, we’re on a journey to stay and become the best leaders we can be at any point in time.

    And at any point in time, if you’re self-aware self-reflective, if you keep your values in mind, if you lead from your values and if you look at what’s best for your team, for the business, for the role that you have, if you lead with a positive intent, you are doing the best you can, but being open to owning when we made a mistake and to learn from our experiences, that is really the key to powerful, authentic leadership 

    So we talked about four misconceptions about authentic leadership. So let’s look at the facts. Fact number one, authentic leadership is not about staying in one leadership style and being quite rigid. It’s about staying flexible. Fact number two, authentic leadership is not about being bluntly honest at all times, but it is about crafting your message in the right moment, being open and honest about your values and what you stand for and sharing information that is beneficial for the people that you lead. Fact number three, authentic leadership is about being vulnerable in the right moments. It’s not about being completely open book and sharing your bare soul.

    It’s about sharing anecdotes, experiences, stories, struggles, when it is beneficial for your team, and they can learn something from it, being intentional about it. And fact number four, you don’t have to have it all figured out yet. You don’t need to know who you are yet. It’s a journey. We all learn to be the best leaders every day.

    And we do a little bit better every day.

     Almost 10 years ago, Bill George, a Harvard business school professor, and some of his colleagues, they did a lot of research into leadership and authentic leadership and what they concluded was a beautiful message. And that message is that we learn to be the best leaders based on our stories, our life stories.

    So we want to think about our authentic leadership as a journey and not the finish line. It’s a continuous journey to better understand ourselves and be the best leaders we can be.

    So now that we have looked at these misconceptions, make sure that you subscribe because in two weeks, in the next episode, I will share the characteristics of authentic leadership and the best tips to become an authentic leader yourself right now. And in the meantime, if you’re a bit curious about your authentic leadership style and your strength in authentic leadership, then go to annekoopmann.com/authenticleader to take the quiz and start to figure out which of the authentic leadership styles best fit you and how you can use your strengths to communicate effectively, to build trust and to have impact right now, and to have impact right.

    I can’t wait to share more insights on authentic leadership with you in the next episode. Until then, thank you so much.