Leadership approaches that you can adopt to motivate and guide your team.
Leaders who connect with their teams and make efforts to inspire effective action tend to have the best chances of business success. These people typically exhibit one vital trait that makes them stand out as effective leaders: authenticity. When you lead with authenticity, you can nurture a dedicated team that works with minimal friction towards your company’s overarching goals.
To put this into perspective, a Leadership & Organization Development Journal study has found that the ways employees feel about the authenticity in their company’s leadership team is the strongest factor behind their job satisfaction. This means the way a team feels about their leader’s approach can directly affect their work-related attitudes.
Furthermore, research from the Harvard Business Review has found that most employees believe authenticity improves colleague relationships, trust, productivity, and positivity in the workplace.
With this in mind, you might be wondering how you can improve your authenticity as a leader and what benefits can you expect this to achieve for your company. Here, the divisional and group CFO Gary McGaghey shares five characteristics of authentic leaders and the benefits that these character traits have. Gary McGaghey is the CFO of the €1.3bn end-to-end marketing production and business services group Williams Lea Tag, where he oversees the implementation of commercial plans and investment decisions.
1. Commit to Bettering Yourself
Lots of leaders plan how they’ll motivate and guide their teams. These leaders are much more likely to successfully support their teams if they can also motivate and guide themselves. In short, this work starts with you. When you have the will and commitment to better yourself, you can gain the knowledge you need to help your team flourish. Once you’ve bolstered your skills, perhaps through leadership training, you’ll be in a great position to strengthen your team.
2. Promote Self-Awareness
Authentic leaders need a strong sense of self-awareness to best cooperate with their teams. The Harvard Business Review considers self-awareness the ‘best thing’ leaders can practise to improve their leadership skills. You can encourage self-awareness by asking yourself to reflect on what you’re experiencing, what your strengths are, and how you’re applying these strengths in each relevant scenario. When you engage in this kind of self-assessment, you can gain insights into your own emotions and beliefs and better understand how others are feeling in response to these emotions and beliefs. If you have a keen sense of self-awareness, you’ll be in a good position to cultivate this self-awareness amongst others too.
3. Practise Discipline
When you pair self-awareness with discipline in your leadership approach, your discipline will help you both build your self-awareness and put this into practice. Make it your routine to check in with yourself as you complete your daily tasks to make sure you’re always bringing self-awareness to your role. A disciplined approach to self-awareness will help you focus on your motivations and limitations, which should, in turn, help you identify your leadership style and chart your professional development as an authentic leader.
4. Focus on Your Business Mission
As a leader, you’ll focus on the company’s overall goals more than the smaller-scale processes that contribute to the bigger picture. To uphold a birds-eye perspective, think about the challenges that motivate you to take action and empower others to do the same. When you commit to the larger-scale mission, you should find it easier to lead authentically. You’ll always have business success in mind, which should help you prioritise your tasks and delegate effectively.
5. Inspire Faith in Your Team
Authentic leaders inspire faith in their teams, which means gaining each colleague’s trust and helping them play key roles in the company’s progress. Make it a point to uphold transparency in all team communications and pay attention to the drivers that motivate your team. Inspiring faith can also mean taking risks, and you may need to take a leap of faith during challenging moments. But taking such risks will show your team that you believe the mission is worthy of the effort. If you’re willing to put the effort in and you inspire faith, your team will want to put the effort in too.
Becoming an Authentic Leader
As more companies enrich their business strategies with authenticity and transparency, many are finding that strong leadership capabilities can reap major benefits. Authentic leaders create better business worlds and help their teams both believe in their work and make an impact on the wider world.
The main takeaway here is that it doesn’t matter where you are in your leadership journey: You can always take some time to better yourself, develop your emotional intelligence, and improve your leadership skills. This way, you, your team, and your company can enjoy the substantial returns that come with authentic leadership.
About Gary McGaghey
As an experienced CFO, Gary McGaghey has hired and strengthened world-class finance teams who have achieved major growth transformations for companies around the world. The chartered accountant and chartered management accountant has delivered impressive organic and M&A-driven growth in private equity, listed, and privately owned companies in FMCG, beverage, pharmacy, and media sectors. Aside from his position as CFO of Williams Lea Tag, Gary McGaghey is also the non-executive director of Fitmedia UK.