With technology, it's becoming harder to remain inauthentic at work, according to Todd Horton, founder and CEO of KangoGift. With the modern culture of sharing, thanks to social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there's a sense of openness that might not have existed in companies a decade ago. "For better or worse, the digital age maintains a snapshot of everything and leaders are more sensitive to how they are perceived. It's on leaders to take inventory of how they are perceived and adapt," says Horton.
Authentic leadership is a keystone to a successful business, but what determines an authentic leader from an inauthentic leader? After talking to people in positions of leadership at their companies, there are four key traits that will help determine whether or not you're an authentic leader.
As the vice president of People at Addepar, Lissa Minkin deals with people day in and day out, and she knows the importance of being authentic with your employees. She says one essential quality of an authentic leader is follow through and the ability to back up what they say.
"Your company values shouldn't just be words on paper that aren't lived every day," says Minkin.
For instance, if you tell your employees you consider their personal lives and outside interests important, back it up by "offering flexible work schedules and emphasizing work-life integration by leading by example," she says. Or, similarly, if you tout a "family-friendly" atmosphere at work, prove you mean it by offering family perks, such as "generous parental leave or the flexibility to pick children up from school."
Minkin says there are so many startups and tech companies trying to "disrupt these big, longstanding industries." And to do so, you're going to need a dedicated team that is willing to stick around for the long haul, because disrupting an entire industry takes time and effort. Your employees are more likely to feel committed if they perceive their leaders as authentic, which makes them feel more connected to the company and the leadership, says Minkin. Following through on what you say helps builds trust, and gives your employees the security of knowing they'll be treated well by the company.
At Addepar, Minkin says the CEO focuses on making the company a family-friendly workplace, and encourages employees to schedule "family time" on their calendars, so coworkers will know not to book any meetings during that time. And since the CEO had his first baby, he's been leading by example, making employees feel comfortable to do the same with their calendars, she says.
"If your employees don't feel that you're authentic in what you say and how you act, you run the risk of losing great talent and jeopardizing your company's long term future. Your business is only as good as the people who comprise it," Minkin says.
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