Studies prove that 77% of all employees do not trust management and 63% do not believe what their managers say. The world is in a crisis of trust and credibility. The consequences are a lack of motivation, increased fluctuation, conflicts, burn-outs, project failure and ultimately unnecessary expenses and thus the reduction of corporate profit and value. Moreover, today employees do no longer juts seek the opportunity of earning money, but also place particular emphasis on finding deeper meaning in their work.

loveLeaders in the 21st century should be concerned with creating trust through credibility and using this asset to learn to appreciate the value of their employees and clients, so that the latter in the best case can live up to their vocation and entrepreneurial spirit lying inherent in each of us, which in turn will boost productivity.

Thousands of books and countless investigations over the past 50 years on the ‘optimal’ leadership style, characterized by concepts such as ‘co-operative’, ‘delegatory’, ‘laissez-faire’, ‘situative’ or ‘lateral’, have up to today not managed to come up with the success formula for effective leadership.

There simply cannot be one optimal leadership style. Different leadership styles which again are perceived differently by different and unique personalities, can all lead to the success desired. However, one basic condition must be fulfilled without any doubt: whoever seeks to rally people behind him must credibly earn their trust in the long run. Personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King impressively showed us how this is done. Dispensing with social status, they ventured ‘to look inwards’, moved the hearts of millions by recognizing their own individuality and authenticity, thus rendering magnificent leadership services under the most difficult circumstances.

Whoever leads himself and others authentically learns to appreciate his own values, dares to express his opinion freely, to live his own principles in a self-determined manner and to follow the dictates of the heart with ease in any situation. As our environment always reflects what we ourselves experience, appreciation for diversity grows as a consequence of self-respect. Authentic leadership means nothing but ‘following the dictates of the heart’ when it screams and at the same time showing appreciation for diversity.

How do we achieve authenticity?

Experiencing the highest possible degree of your ‘self’ and integrating it into everyday leadership requires courage. Early in childhood, we already learnt to play roles that have become self-evident habits in the course of time, so as often to do things with forestalling obeisance that others demand of us to satisfy at all costs the primordial need for praise and recognition. At the same time, false beliefs and opinions by third parties sneak in, seeking to indoctrinate us with formulae for quick success and worn-out management rules and teach us what constitutes good leadership.

Our authenticity, i.e. the uniqueness of being different, was given to us at birth. So it is a question of nothing else but regaining our birth right by courageously going our own ways. So an authentic lifestyle is not a management tool that can rapidly be acquired in seminars. It is the primary source of our true being that can be regained by the path of self-knowledge.

With the integrity of their hearts, authentic managers achieve major effects in 4 essential areas:

They have clarified the question as to meaning, know their value and seek the environment in which they can experience it.
They know their strengths and weaknesses and have the courage to display their personalities accordingly.
They have the courage to express their opinions openly and provide feedback, at the same time showing appreciation for diversity and
They do not form opportunist cliques, but lasting relationships with other people.
To put this in a simple formula: what you feel in your heart, must conform to what you say and do. Courage and commitment help. The following equation results:

‘What the heart says (4 areas)’ times ‘commitment’ = ‘courage’ times ‘action (words and deeds)’

The following questions now arise:

Am I following my heart in the 4 above-mentioned areas?

If not, why not? Is it due to false beliefs or fears? Or must I behave and communicate differently to preserve integrity?

Do I really want to change something? If I do, on what point of the formula must I work? Must I dismantle false beliefs, develop more courage (eliminate anxieties) or first become aware of my true values or vocation?

My personal experience shows that you are not only credible with authenticity, but are also frequently positively perceived as an unorthodox thinker displaying appreciation for others. You promote innovative co-operation and lay the foundations for generating enormous value added with the joint net product (joint or even shared value).

In view of the major challenges of the 21st century, you have the following choice: like what you do (commitment) or do what you really like (courage). This is the golden path towards effective (self-) leadership which will inspire others, create trust and enable the coping with major challenges.