Authentic leadership

I'm working with some leaders at the moment who are great. They are not necessarily great leaders all the time, everyday and that's ok. They aren't perfect and no one is. We are all learning and all developing. But what I love about them is that they are authentic. All the time. That doesn't mean they give away all of themselves, but there is no pretence and no pretending. And even though they don't reveal all of themselves completely they are not guarded either.

Ever had a conversation with someone who is guarded? Ugh. Over the past months I have had a couple of those conversations and gee, so not satisfying and I can't help feeling that these people are not going to move forward. These conversations make me feel like I'm not trusted, even though I know the issue may not be about me. Maybe guarded is the opposite of authentic?

The notion of being authentic and authentic leadership is something that has gained more attention and research recently, including from the Harvard Business Review, where you can read about discovering your authentic leadership.

So in my experience Authentic leaders exhibit the following:

1. They are true to who they are
In any situation whether under stress or not you see a person who is essentially behaving consistently and honestly. This doesn't mean that they don't get angry or upset, but they are willing to show this so people working with them know they are human.

2. They are open
By sharing parts of their whole life they allow others to connect with them. They share their struggles and difficulties. Not all problems and not with everyone, but they are able to work out what is right to share with the right people.

Last year one of the leaders I work with shared with the Operations team why Safety was so important to him. He took it beyond wanting to have a safe workplace so our employees are safe. He made it really personal and this made a huge impact.

3. They are consistent
These are not the people in the workplace that you tiptoe around because you don't know what mood they are going to be in, or how they are going to react to a situation. Because these people are open and authentic you can count on them to be consistent in their behaviour.

4. They are reflective: about their own behaviour and how they come across to others, as well as reflective of situations in business. They admit when a decision they made wasn't the best and they celebrate when things work out well.

5.They are perceptive: about how people in the workplace will feel about a situation and use to this to inform decisions and communication efforts. They are usually emotionally intelligent, being perceptive about people feel about things.

6. They have courage
They are prepared to make the tough decisions and have tough conversations. They are willing to help people do better but when they don't they make a tough decision and follow through. When they make a bad decision they admit it and make changes to fix it.

Having courage means they also give great feedback. They are able to get to the point of someone's development need, and frame it in a way that the person gets the message clearly. They don't sugar coat the message but they are clever in giving feedback that also doesn't offend and helps the person improve. There have been times when leaders have told me the feedback they have given to another person and I feel so proud of their skill and bravery.

7. They are liked. So this one is tricky because I don't think you need to be liked to do a good job (generally) and it's also not a priority in being a good leader, but I have noticed that authentic leaders are liked because they are honest about who they are. And this makes them much more effective and means people will forgive them for many things, because they are recognised as human and as a person.

So there are my top 7 attributes of effective and authentic leaders. What would you add?