By Kent Mulkey

It continues to surprise me that leaders behave one way at work, while their “real” personality emerges outside of work. One CEO said, “leadership is acting.” Then these same leaders seem shocked when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t wait to work somewhere else.

People can smell a poser a mile away and will run from them as fast as they can. Years ago, I had a boss who often reminded me that he was the COO, and I was not, which was reason enough, at least in his mind, to toe the line and do what he said. And I did. Until I could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy and lack of authenticity.

Look at these eight authentic leadership characteristics:

  1. Self-awareness. Safety and trust in the team is built as the leader knows his/her own strengths and weaknesses and shares them with the team.
  2. Lead with heart. An authentic leader does more than just lead cerebrally. He also leads from the heart — with courage and a willingness to dig deep.
  3. Integrity. They don’t say things they don’t mean. They keep their word, no matter what it takes.
  4. Lead with vision. They help the people they lead to reach higher and aim for excellence. They believe in the talents and giftedness of those on the team.
  5. Listening skills. They will consider the ideas of others and even change their mind if input makes sense. You will never know everything.
  6. Transparency. They don’t hide their mistakes; they have the courage to be who they really are.
  7. Give credit where it is due. Often the leader gets the credit. An authentic leader shares the credit with the team.
  8. Draw from experience. After 30 plus years leading teams, I have made plenty of mistakes. It is important to share those with others so they too can learn and grow.

Bill George, who authored the book, “True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership,” wrote, “ . . . it really boils down to the lives you touch every day in your life . . . and people you don’t even know sometimes whom you have impacted by who you are, what you stand for, by being true to what you believe.”

Consider for a minute the impact you can have (or are having). Our arena, senior living, is full of opportunities to touch residents, staff, families, and vendors. Go do it, with genuineness and authenticity.

Be real. Be yourself. People will thank you for it.