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Authentic leadership
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Marianne Bevis

Roger Federer and great leaders have more in common than you may think

Roger Federer and great leaders have more in common than you may think

You don’t become the greatest tennis player of all time without one particular trait.

Of course, natural talent is undeniably important, but there’s another salient attribute to Rodger Federer’s makeup that contributed to his 18 grand slam titles. Practice.

Now, this may seem obvious, but without a constant striving to be the best, Federer would never have gotten to the position he is in today.

The same goes for leadership, and this week’s episode of the Hot Topics podcast unpicks exactly what it takes to be the best in business. And who better to walk us through than award-winning sociologist Professor Gareth Jones, whose bestselling book ‘Why should anyone be led by you’ has sold over 150,000 copies.

The key to great leadership, explains Jones, is “authenticity”.

“But while the expression of an authentic self is necessary for great leadership, the concept of authenticity is often misunderstood, not least by leaders themselves. They often assume that authenticity is an innate quality—that a person is either authentic or not. In fact, authenticity is a quality that others must attribute to you. No leader can look into a mirror and say, ‘I am authentic.’”

Authentic leadership requires great leaders to conform to those around them, but just enough to create distance.

Jones describes authentic leadership in four different steps.

The first being managing others perception of you, or ensuring that you do as you say you will. Consistency is key here and every great leader understands the importance of this.

Second knowing yourself and others, which means developing a profound complexity of the self. Without this complexity, Jones writes that leaders will only be able to recruit “as followers only those people with whom she already shares some common ground.”

Thirdly is using where you came from to your advantage, drawing on past experiences to add to authenticity because once an individual reaches senior level, there can be a tendency by others for them to be perceived in a completely different way. By drawing on the past, leaders can share common ground with those they lead.

Finally, conformity.

Authentic leadership requires great leaders to conform to those around them, but just enough to create distance.

Argubly the hardest of all traits, Jones writes that it is a “very fine judgment call: Too much conformity can render leaders ineffective; too little can isolate them.”

To find out more about authentic leadership, listen to this weeks episode of the Hot Topics podcast above.

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