The core of an authentic leader? It’s not a high IQ, conventional good looks or the ability to mingle as a social butterfly. It is humility.
A recent study from the University of South Australia Centre for Workplace Excellence shared research that leaders demonstrating humility achieve positive workplace outcomes. Demonstrations of humility, according to the study, may include self-awareness, praising the strengths of others, and encouraging feedback.
Part of self-awareness for authentic leaders is the way they communicate in the workplace. Authentic leaders choose certain words or phrases that allow them to best communicate with team members across all levels and departments.
Impressive phrases are often ones the team does not expect to hear from leadership. It is also not enough to speak these phrases into existence. Authentic leaders live their values and walk the walk. This inspires teams to take initiative and become more productive.
Listen for these three phrases and see how authentic leaders work to put them into practice.
In a traditional workplace, leaders often make decisions without consulting the team. Old-school management beliefs often emphasize that only those in charge should have the final say in making decisions.
Sometimes the results of solo decision-making are positive. However, this is — increasingly — not always the case. A decision made without proper business savvy or feedback often negatively backfires on the business.
Debbie Winkelbauer is the CEO of recruiting firm Surf Search. Winkelbauer says that authentic leaders will seek advice prior to making a decision.
There are a few reasons why leaders will ask for other perspectives. The first is a bit of an ego self-check: even the best and brightest cannot claim to have all the answers.
“Authentic leaders can identify where they lack knowledge, then actively seek missing perspectives or expertise to fill in those gaps and make the best possible decision,” Winkelbauer says.
The second reason ties in with valuing team feedback.
Winkelbauer points out that employees are often frustrated when a superior makes a mistake that the employee could have helped them prevent, but the superior did not ask for their advice. Asking for, and listening to, other perspectives allow authentic leaders to show that they value employees’ knowledge and to make better, thoughtful decisions.
How good does it feel to be praised for your hard work and effort? Even just reading this phrase aloud feels good.
Melanie Bedwell, eCommerce Manager for OLIPOP, has over a decade of experience in working with brands including TOMS and Apple. Bedwell cites this impressive phrase as one she has heard authentic leaders use in the workplace over the course of her career.
“Most projects are a team effort, and this phrase shows gratitude,” Bedwell says. “It’s nice for a leader to acknowledge this and not take all the credit.”
Leaders that use this phrase are recognizing the hard work each person put into a project or assignment. This phrase lets them put the spotlight on their team for going above and beyond in their role.
Think about the last time you emailed a leader an interesting study or new story you read. How did they respond? If they weren’t responsive or dismissive, employees may feel less inclined to keep reaching out. However, if a leader was thankful or expressed enthusiasm for this information, sending that reply is a positive sign for the employee and the company culture.
Sneh Kadakia is the Founder and CEO of from HERE, a network of on-demand neighborhood workspaces. Kadakia is aware that this impressive phrase may be simple in nature — it is quite easy to say thank you, after all — but it leaves an impact at leadership and company culture levels.
“This insight shows a level of compassion, humility, and self-awareness at the leadership level that immediately creates a work environment that is open to learning, development, and collaboration,” Kadakia says.
It all goes back to humility, the core of an authentic leader. And with this impressive phrase is the rare opportunity to be more than a leader. It elevates professionals into becoming role models.
“When you see your leaders as individuals who are continuously learning and developing themselves, it triggers a chain reaction across the organization,” Kadakia says. “This reinforces a positive culture of meaningful, two-way conversations that ultimately result in employee happiness and business success.”
This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.