In just about every list of leadership characteristics, you will find “authenticity.” Seldom, however, do leaders come to coaching so they can be more authentic. They want to know what to DO, not what to BE. Often, they will say things like:
- I want to create a more trusting team. No more backstabbing.
- I want to do a better job of mentoring and growing new leaders.
- I want to take my leadership to the next level.
- I want my team to perform better.
As we work through the coaching path to create goals for our engagement, new leaders come to the realization that great leaders have already discovered; leadership growth is about discovery and self-development. Great leaders work to understand more about themselves and, in doing so, start to understand how WHO they are affects HOW they act.
Authenticity is the ability to be you regardless of the situation. It is a state in which you are so comfortable that you can share deep pieces of yourself comfortably. Coaching for authenticity usually involves three pieces.
Leaders seek clarity and understanding about their values. You can’t be authentic if you are clear about what you value. At Ultimate Coach University, we have several classes on value clarification with clients. The tools for this involve value sorting exercises, biographies of admired leaders, visualization boards, and practice in powerful discovery questions. One tool that is recommended is the Values In Action Survey of Character Strengths which is free.
Leaders seek clarity and understanding about their strengths. In its simplest, a strength is anything that leaves you feeling more powerful and a weakness is anything that leaves you feeling drained. Besides strength finding surveys, coaching clients are pushed to discover these things on a day-to-day basis. A 360 is a great way to discover what others see in you. Strengths are the activities that we want to do: the behaviors.
Leaders develop a strong connection between their values and their strengths. The core questions are powerful ones:
- What do you need to do so your behaviors (strengths) reflect your values?
- How will others know this is the real you?
- What will make this a consistent and persistent pattern of activities for you
As coaching clients start to live what they believe, their authenticity becomes more and more apparent. What they want to do will match who they are.