In his 34 years at HP, Nigro says he the company was built on authentic leadership, starting with its founders Bill Hewett and Dave Packard. Hewett and Packard believed leadership was less about control and more about engagement and trust -- equipping people with clear objectives and the right resources, and then trusting them to get the job done. They fostered a culture of collaboration, says Nigro, and avoided micro-management.
"HP's values, which were instilled in the very beginning, include contribution, superior performance, setting objectives and then giving people freedom to operate, investing in the community and, ultimately, operating with the highest integrity. This is what allowed HP to become the company it is today. Establishing core values and making them transcendent -- people want to be a part of that," says Nigro.
Of course, none of the characteristics for authentic leadership can be complete without a sense of self-awareness. Blake Angove, Director of Technology Services at LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm, says that being an authentic leader means you need to be upfront with yourself about your own shortcomings.
An authentic leader knows their own weaknesses and strengths, and will "use their team's individual strengths to support the skills they may be lacking in. They don't have egos and are able to delegate various tasks, and most importantly, they're not afraid to ask for help," says Angove.
Similar to other leaders, Angove equates authenticity with trust, stating that if a leader is inauthentic, their team is less likely to trust them. And, without trust, comes a lack of commitment and motivation from workers. He gives the example of Steve Jobs as an authentic leader -- even though he asked a lot from his employees, Angove says that he was always upfront about the goals of the company and what he expected from Apple's new products. With a focused and strong message, his company was able to align under one goal and become successful, because everyone knew what to expect and what was expected of them.
Ultimately, Angove says authenticity starts at the top -- if the CEO is authentic, it will trickle down all the way to the most entry-level employees. It's about creating a culture of authenticity, and it's the responsibility of the leaders in the company to foster that environment.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.