Searching for “your authentic leadership style” is probably an impossible quest. It implies that deep within you is a unique nugget of personal identity that holds the keys to your leadership style – and only by stripping off the layers of life can you be free to lead from this position of authenticity!
If you believe this view then what you need is a guru; someone who can take you on a journey to discover your true self.
The one big flaw with this idea is that our “True Self” is a moving feast. Every day we meet people and have experiences that shape our sense of who we are. So finding your “authentic leadership style” is going to be difficult if it is based on the idea of a fixed sense of “Self”.
The alternative to finding your authentic style of leadership is to simply find a way of being authentic. Being authentic has internal and external aspects.
Carl Rogers referred to the internal aspect of authenticity as “Congruence” – and described it as
“In this particular moment of this immediate relationship with this specific person, the therapist is completely and fully himself, with his experience of the moment being accurately symbolised and integrated into the picture he holds of himself”. (Carl Rogers 1959).
Although he is talking about therapy here, there is no reason why this definition shouldn’t apply to anyone who aspires to be authentic.
The external aspect is choosing what to do with your experience of the situation once you have had it. How much of your experience is it appropriate for you to share? How transparent can you dare to be with your thoughts and feelings? How resilient are you to what others may think about you?
Being authentic is difficult. It comes with a perceived risk that others may not like what they see. I think that being an authentic leader is simply about being authentic – and allowing your leadership training and instincts to come through – authentically.
For those interested in reading more about authenticity I highly recommend
John Powell’s book – “Why am I afraid to tell you who I am”.