When it comes to successful leadership, your team has to trust you. And in order for your team to trust you, they have to feel comfortable with you. That comfort and trust requires authenticity and integrity, plus it takes time to build. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and valued. Everyone wants to feel heard. And to do all of that, you have to let down your walls and get over the fear of being real…of being authentically you. Once those walls are down, you can begin to build a space for open communication.
There is a level of vulnerability and strength necessary when it comes to authenticity. It certainly isn’t always easy – sometimes you’ll want to put on a brave face or mask the truth to avoid emotions or feeling awkward, but for the sake of your team and the trust they place in you, you have to be completely open and authentic with them.
People can tell whether you’re being genuine, even more-so if they know you well. This can really impact your efficacy as a leader, so be an open book. Plus being genuine and authentic makes you more relatable. If you’re trying to bring success and show your team that something can be done, then it becomes much clearer when your team can easily relate to you.
Just remember that every time you get the urge to put up a wall or put on a mask to hide your authentic self, you’re choosing to lie to those you lead. And when they realize that (notice I say “when,” not “if”), they’ll become skeptical of you and how you lead them. Some of that trust will be gone.
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When something goes wrong as a leader, especially when that something is your fault, the idea of being upfront about what happened can be daunting. Sometimes you may think it’d just be easier to keep it to yourself or cover it up, but one thing I always remind my team of is “the covering up of a crime is worse than the crime itself.” Have you ever considered why that is?
Typically when something does go wrong, it’s simply an accident…a mistake we maybe could have avoided by paying closer attention or doing something a little differently, but it’s rarely something we do intentionally to sabotage what we’re working on. However, the cover up of that mistake is thought out and intentional. It shows that you recognize that what occurred was a mistake, but you were too cowardly to own up to that mistake and fix it.
If you create a space for open communication and understanding, then owning up to mistakes should come a little more easily to you and your team. That isn’t to say there won’t be repercussions, but it does show integrity to admit to a mistake and take ownership in fixing it.
And remember, as a leader, sometimes your team is going to slip up. They make try to cover up a mistake or mask the truth. It’s up to you to sit down with them, coming from a place of understanding, but also committing yourself to helping them reach a point that they’re comfortable being authentic and owning up to mistakes. We are all human, and it takes time, patience, and a bit of learning to become our best selves.