Number one on my list of lessons for leadership is to “be yourself.” Yes, you’ve heard this a million times, but it is the only way to gain trust and keep people on your side. Authenticity breeds trust, which will take you pretty far.
Consider the times you’ve seen someone on TV or even in person that you could just tell wasn’t being authentic. It happens all the time with politicians, business leaders, salespeople, and even teachers and parents. They try to be someone or something they aren’t and most often, they will trip up and get caught in the act. Once people see through the show, the trust is broken.
In leadership, you need to realize that everyone is scared of letting their weaknesses show, especially in the business world. By showing your vulnerable side, you can let others know that you’re just like they are. It helps you gain their trust and allows them to more easily open up instead of feeling intimidated by your role or title. It helps you help them be authentic.
As a leader, you need to know yourself in order to help others get better at being themselves. It may take some self reflection for you to realize who you are and where you’ve been. Take a long, hard look at your own past and what events shaped you. Pay special attention to the lessons that weren’t easily learned and how you gained knowledge and grew. These insights will help you further grow yourself and relate to your teams.
To help you teach others to open up and be who they are, consider these tips:
- Believe in all your people. Celebrating their individualities while keeping them working toward the same goals can be challenging. But by having respect for their styles and values, you can still lead everyone toward success.
- Give them individual development plans. Appreciate their strengths, and take time to find out what makes each person tick. Then, you can help them find ways to be more effective at what they do.
- Provide a safe haven for input. Include everyone in discussions and make it easy for them to feel comfortable speaking up. When they disagree with you, listen to their points and thank them for sharing their side.
Remember, we are all works in progress. We are each individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses. Showing your team that you are always working to better yourself can help them accept their own challenges and work on them, too.
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