12:00 PM

Authentic leaders know themselves first

By Mark Berven, President and Chief Operating Officer, Property & Casualty

Before you can fully understand others, you need to understand yourself. Self-awareness is key to being an authentic leader, according to an article from the Harvard Business School called The truth about authentic leaders.

This article was interesting to me because it talks less about what it means to be authentic and more about how each leader can develop her or his own authenticity. It inspired me to think about my leadership style and I hope it will do the same for you. Here are some key takeaways for me:

Understanding brings confidence
As leaders develop a deeper understanding of their own beliefs, it helps them to be more confident and resilient in difficult situations. A better understanding of yourself can give you the confidence to lead when your team needs you most.

Don’t just react to feedback, seek it out
How a leader wants to be seen can be quite different from how others see them. Authentic leaders understand this by not waiting for feedback but seeking it out on a regular basis. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people who will give you honest feedback.

Understand your purpose
Rather than focusing solely on success metrics, leaders who focus on their purpose can more easily define the unique gifts they bring to the challenges they face, helping them align people around a common goal. Know where you want to go, and success will naturally follow.

Tailor your style to what’s needed
As leaders gain experience and develop greater self-awareness, they become naturally better at adapting their style without compromising their character. Authentic leaders understand that adapting your style to the situation doesn’t mean changing who you are.

For me, the bottom line is that authentic leaders don’t need to be rare. Every leader can find a more authentic version of themselves and they — and, more importantly, the teams they lead — will be better for it.