Hi Leader,

This key identifies the greatest workplace deficit, explains why leaders must address it, and suggests some actions you can take to ensure that you overcome it.

How to Overcome the Greatest Workplace Deficit?

At the end of a two-day strategy workshop with a client's leadership team, I posed this question to the executives: "What is the greatest deficit in the workplace?"

After many good guesses, I revealed the answer: authentic leadership. By that I mean leaders who are transparent and transformative, who communicate and engage with others from the inside out.

Why is authentic leadership important?

You cannot generate sustainable success if your employees do not believe in you. Your leadership must be supported by "followership." You cannot guide people through change, uncertainty, or transformation if they don't understand your motives and see them as consistent with their own. Authentic leaders build trust. They inspire energized engagement. They create the reservoir of willingness necessary to get results because their teams understand why their leaders care, and they know why they should care as well.

What causes the authentic leadership deficit?

Self-knowledge and self-worth are foundations of authentic leadership. Authentic leaders achieve and maintain a high degree of self-knowledge. They recognize and embrace their true value. They understand that these two qualities together set the stage for authentic engagement and effective leadership. A deficit occurs when one or both of these critical elements are missing. Unfortunately, many executives hinder their ability to lead by not developing these foundational qualities.

When you have a high level of self-knowledge, you are fully aware of who you are, what you stand for and value, where you're going, and how you will get there. You take ownership of your talents and responsibility for your limitations. As a result, you are able to leverage opportunities and mitigate challenges. You project a confidence that inspires others' trust. You continuously engage in self-learning activities, and you encourage others to do the same.

When you have a healthy sense of self-worth, you embrace the true value you provide. You don't need others to reassure you or feed your ego; you are secure in the knowledge that you are good enough as you are. Thus you are open to learn, grow and evolve. At the same time, you are open and realistic about your challenges. You actively seek others' help to supplement your competencies and offset your deficiencies. When you model self-assured behaviors, you set a positive example for those who suffer from low self-esteem.

How can you overcome a deficit of authentic leadership?

First, focus on yourself. Make sure you have a high level of self-awareness and a healthy feeling of self-worth. Next, help others achieve these qualities too.

Here are ten statements to help you begin to assess your levels of self-knowledge and self-worth as you work to foster authentic leadership. Ask yourself how closely your behavior matches each one.

I make it a regular practice to:

  1. Focus on, and remain grounded in, the present.
  2. Center myself by checking in with my beliefs, emotions, experiences, inner voice, and values.
  3. Set priorities based on my purpose and vision for my life.
  4. Ensure my actions and decisions are aligned with my values and purpose.
  5. Communicate my needs and expectations openly.
  6. Lead a balanced life - manage stress effectively, and engage in self-care.
  7. Maintain a positive mental attitude by controlling my self-talk and cultivating a high level of resilience.
  8. Hold myself accountable for my actions and results.
  9. Take ownership of my talents and bring them into all aspects of my life.
  10. Pass my learning on to others by setting a good example, and by teaching, mentoring, and/or coaching them.

In what ways can you improve your self-knowledge and self-worth? Identify one such area. Take the steps necessary today to begin to enhance your authentic leadership. Then share your knowledge with others so they can do the same. Together you can overcome the greatest workplace deficit.


© Aviv Shahar