Imagine a global boutique firm and a bunch of idealistic visionaries with the shared purpose of changing the world one leader at a time. Well, that’s pretty much us. Recently, we set out to publish a few thoughts about authentic leadership. Yes, we wanted to create content, position our expertise, expand our reach, and all that marketing jazz, but more importantly, we felt compelled to share what we deeply believe in.
The 3 questions we initially wanted to address were:
- Why do we need authentic leadership?
- What is the impact of authentic leaders on business performance?
- How can authentic leaders be developed?
What started out to be a single simple task, quickly took on a life of its own – which is not unheard of when you get into the flow of something you care for. As we began to research authentic leadership and write from the heart, lo and behold, suddenly we had created a series of papers. Who knows, maybe later they may turn into a book, or even a movement!
Throughout the process of discussing, reading and writing about authentic leadership, we gained more and more clarity and experienced the unique kind of joy you feel when both your head and your heart are in the same place. It made sense to have more authentic leaders from all points of view we examined: the more logical and strategic ones, as well as the more emotional and human perspectives.
Some of our key findings about why we need more authentic leaders:
- Given the complexity of our world and organizations’ struggle to adapt to it, authentic leadership is a way to induce and accelerate organizational change.
- Authentic Leadership proves to foster greater creativity, drives organizational citizenship behaviors and improves business performance.
- Adopting authentic leadership has a sustainable impact on human beings in the workplace by connecting people’s hearts and minds.
- Authentic Leadership is a way to help individuals and teams be the best version of themselves, thus positively affecting business results.
In addition to the intellectual academic research that has been done on this subject so far, we have identified another powerful validation that has yet to be scientifically proven. This insight is based on experience and therefore no less relevant, as it elaborates on point number 4: when we interact with an authentic leader, we feel respected and cared for. We trust their intentions because they are open and honest about them, both explicitly and implicitly. They consistently live up to their values, embody them, and role model behaviors that create a space of psychological safety.
That kind of experience, when we stop feeling the need to be alert and dare to lower our guards, allows us to bring our best self to work. We feel compelled to live up to the same values, to be worthy of that treatment and we are inspired to reciprocate and extend the same care towards others as well. And that is what ultimately drives a purposeful connection to what we do, which of course, has an impact on how we pour ourselves into our job and how we contribute to the organizations we work for. In other words, authentic leadership impacts your bottom line.
Following Clare Graves’ spiral dynamics and the Teal paradigm, referring to the evolutionary stages of human and organizational consciousness, we deliberately call this publication a teal paper (as opposed to a white paper) because we are not afraid to address “the fluffy bit”. Even without hardcore evidence, it is what everyone, who dares to admit it, can feel when they experience authentic leadership. We are drawn to people who lead from the heart because we can connect to them. Humans want to connect with other humans, and feel the power of aligned hearts and minds.
Best of it all though, is that authentic leadership is not an exclusive privilege of C-suite executives or a select club of individuals with a secret handshake – anyone can develop authentic leadership qualities. Anyone who is brave enough to be themselves and to lead from within. At GAIA Insights, we want to spread the word about authentic leadership – what it is, why it matters, and how we can nurture and develop it. Yes, of course, it also connects to our business, but the thing is: we are in this business because we care, not the other way around.
Ready to join a movement in the making? Take a peek at our teal paper and let us know what you think!