IT MANAGEMENT

10 Ways to Be an Authentic IT Leader

Jul 15, 2013 10:14 am | CIO
by Rich Hein

If you follow the news you can find a litany of examples of poor leadership. People are distrustful or cynical of today's leadership and many times with good reason. That's why being an authentic leader is so important. Getting all your people onboard and moving in the same direction is paramount to success in the fast-paced environment of IT.

What Does It Mean to be an Authentic Leader?

Most of us have had a boss or worked with someone who tried hard to portray himself or herself as something they weren't. Not only was it off-putting to their co-workers and subordinates, but it was likely exhausting for them. You can't lead people by trying to be something you aren't.

Being an authentic leader helps to create an environment where people are not only confident in your ability to get the job done, but also in your motives for doing so. So what can you do to be a more authentic leader with your teams? CIO.com spoke with CIOs and professional-development experts to find out what it takes to be the leader people want to follow. Here are 10 keys.

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1. Know Thyself

The best way to start your journey is know who you are at your core. "You need to understand yourself and your motives," says Tim Eiler, manager of the Project Management Office for Park Nicollet HealthPartners.

In a study done by Bill George and other scholars, researchers reported that there wasn't a common set of traits associated with authentic leadership. What they found was that most often a successful authentic leader's style of management was a result of their life story or upbringing.

"The journey to authentic leadership begins with understanding the story of your life. Your life story provides the context for your experiences, and through it, you can ?nd the inspiration to make an impact in the world"

"You're the best at being you, not a watered-down version of another leader. Don't try to be like anyone else," says Pamela Rucker, chair of the CIO Executive Council's Executive Women in IT.

2. Lead With Integrity

Trust is a large part of leadership. People not only need to know you are competent at what you do, they also need to understand your motives. "Values-based leadership is necessary for driving sustainable change as this ensures that the results achieved are underpinned with a strong moral and ethical foundation, thus they can also stand up to any scrutiny or resistance to change," says Greg Stewart, vice president and CIO of Enerflex.

"It's all about trust," says Eiler, "Even though we each work for money, job satisfaction or whatever else gives us value in return for the work we do, it's relatively easy to vote with our feet. If I don't trust my leaders, I'm much more likely to do just that."

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Trust is gained in a number of ways, according to Rucker. "Regardless of what process you use, you want to lead in such a way that people know that you are honest, fair and you are concerned about others."