Blog article

Authentic leadership

We all know that one leader that we aspire to.  What was it that made them so good?  And how can we emulate their success?

Authenticity in leadership is vitally important.  Honesty, integrity and high ethical standards are essential leadership qualities needed to build trust, in both people and brands. Authenticity can make or break collaboration and cooperation.

You'd expect values-based businesses like co-ops to be good at this stuff. But there is no cheat sheet, no one can be authentic by trying to imitate someone else! It is not measurable and no matter how much you aspire to it, you can’t buy it in a bottle. But is very easy to spot when it is missing.

Authenticity is more than words, it is actions. To ensure that we act with authenticity our actions and intentions need fulfil the implicit and explicit standards of our colleagues. When your actions are deemed unfair, or do not to live up to your intentions, authenticity is lost.

However, if we are authentic, we are more likely to be forgiven when we make poor decisions, authentic leaders know that they can fail as their engaged community will carry them through.

We must create opportunities of authentic engagement, facing our own failure, sharing weakness and doubt as well as conviction and strength. Listening more than talking and engaging with honesty in issues that are most significant to our work.

7 signs of authentic leadership

  • You have a clear sense of integrity
  • You know that it is not all about you
  • You aren't afraid to be vulnerable
  • Your actions mirror your words
  • You don’t forget where you started
  • You know you cannot do it all on your own
  • You put others before yourself

Jenny Holsgrove is Co-operatives UK’s Head of Culture and Performance. Get in touch to find out how she can help your co-op to strengthen its leadership and culture.

Written by Jenny Holsgrove
Updated: 20/02/2020