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It’s a well-worn Hollywood trope. We’ve all seen the inept and often ignored manager whose willingness to kiss up to the higher-ups and desperation to make himself look good leads to ridiculous situations. While it makes for good comedy, like all stereotypes, there is a grain of truth in it. The one thing all “bad bosses” have in common is a stunning lack of authenticity. They are so preoccupied with putting up a good front that they often dismiss valuable input from their team and have difficulty rallying the troops when challenges arise.

People simply don’t respond very well to inauthentic leadership. Whether it’s children in an elementary school or workers on an assembly line, people have a knack for figuring out who brings their whole, authentic self and who is simply saying and doing what’s popular.

So what is authentic leadership and why is it so hard to achieve? It is the ability of a leader to bring their entire, uncompromised selves to their job and inspire and motivate their team. That can be terrifying since most of us have failures and weaknesses that we’d rather others don’t see. However, authentic leadership means sharing those failures and using them to inspire and motivate others. After all, if you failed once or twice you give permission for your team to be per

The theory around authentic leadership is still evolving but researchers have identified five characteristics that all authentic leaders have. They are:

  • Passion: They have a clear vision of who they are and what they seek to achieve.
  • Behavior: They walk the walk; their behavior is aligned with their stated values.
  • Connectedness: They have personal relationships with their team members.
  • Compassion: They are sensitive to the needs of their team.
  • Consistency: The demonstrate the self-discipline necessary to inspire others.

Authentic leadership requires leaders to be vulnerable to scrutiny and open to criticism. It also requires leaders to recognize that continuing to put up a front is more detrimental in the long run to team cohesion and mobilization. Nobody wants to go the extra mile for a leader that you don’t believe has your well-being at heart. And few people are inspired by people who appear to never make mistakes. Take the step today and be someone who leads with passion and authenticity. Doing so will not only make you a better leader, but a team member who is worth looking up to.