The 5 Factors That Make an Authentic Leader

Authentic Leader

Self-actualized individuals aware of their strengths, emotions and limitations can become truly authentic leaders. These leaders are able to show their real selves and do not act one way in private and another in public. They don’t hide their mistakes out of the fear of looking weak. They realize being self-actualized is an endless journey without a finish line.

Authentic leadership is more than just authority and control. Rather, authentic leadership involves a deep commitment to the growth of an organization, an individual or team of people, and true insight and inspiration.

The five factors that make an effective leader are:

  • Authentic Leaders are Passionate: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

Being an authentic leader requires a passion that is inexhaustible, determined, and steady even in the face of doubt or defeat. The passion and determination of authentic leaders stems from the belief that they do possess the ability to make a difference in the things that they’re trying to achieve, even if the odds are against them. In order to be an authentic leader, one must have fervor and enthusiasm enough to cast uncertainty about their goals aside.

  • Authentic Leaders are Inspirational: “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker

Those people that are authentic leaders do more than issue directions or organize their staff. Rather, authentic leaders inspire people to take initiative, embrace challenges, and fuel similar passions within individuals. Through an authentic leader’s own character, style, and zeal, others will be find their own forms of internal motivation.

  • Authentic Leaders are Insightful: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18

In addition to being passionate and inspirational, authentic leaders must be insightful and have vision. Not only do leaders often have to imagine the impossible, but they also have to solve problems, offer suggestions, and lead in the face of difficulty. A person who isn’t willing to be creative, take risks, think outside the box, or solve problems critically can’t be a true authentic leader.

  • Authentic Leaders have Integrity: “The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.” –Dwight Eisenhower

One of the most important qualities of an authentic leader is integrity. In fact, it’s integrity that sets apart powerful leaders from authentic ones. Hitler, Fidel Castro, and Stalin were all leaders who greatly influenced the course of history. However, while they all exerted extreme amount of power, the leaders that are held in the highest of regards are those such as Gandhi, the Dali Lama, or Abraham Lincoln. The main thing that sets apart these sets of men: integrity.

  • Authentic Leaders have Humility: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

Not only do authentic leaders need to exercise humility when they admit their own wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults, but an authentic leadership contributes success not to themselves, but to the people that they’ve inspired. An authentic leadership requires of delicate balance of giving direction while also allowing people autonomy. If a leader is not humble, and does not have humility, success becomes more about the leader than the cause.

Authentic leadership is hard to obtain, and requires practice, dedication, and hard work. While some people are born authentic leaders, authentic leadership can be achieved by almost anyone with the proper desire and will.