Simply being authentic doesn’t create leadership greatness. The foundation of leadership and business success is built on the usual combination of vision, intellect, guts, performance, hard work, and influence. However, for women, authenticity is the catalyst that leverages all of the positive leadership attributes and brings them to bear more quickly and effectively on the organization.
When a woman is operating as her most authentic self, she both feels and is viewed as a more effective leader. She is a catalyst for meaningful and positive change. She is a high-performing, confident individual and she is a critical player in the organization’s overall success. Among our study group of highly successful women, authenticity made the greatest positive difference in catalyzing, accelerating, and cascading the success of the female leader and her organization.
Authenticity Matters Most
“When I stopped caring what they thought—whether I was meeting their expectations and whether they liked my style—I became so much clearer and more powerful,” said one executive vice president in a recent study and research. “I stopped wasting my energy and bandwidth on these worries, and focused that energy on how to meet our goals.”
This finding about authenticity, although striking in and of itself, takes on even more significance when we consider the challenges to authenticity women face. Because of the disparity between typically masculine leadership norms and women’s authentic selves, women have less reinforcement and more difficulty operating authentically the backdrop against which all of the dimensions of their individual, professional, and personal attributes play out.
For executive women, Individual Psychological Resources are typically the most developed and the most powerful resources that they have at their disposal. These resources are an executive woman’s emotional, cognitive, and motivational traits as well as the skills, knowledge, and experience that she brings to bear on the position. However, they may also include female attributes such as emotional intelligence, an ability to be highly collaborative, and the strengths derived from managing complex, co-existing identities of executive, partner, mother, and daughter.
Highly successful women leverage all of these assets to bring excellence to their positions and organizations.