Authenticity as a leader: curse or blessing?

Being authentic is indispensable in private life. People who are true to themselves in relationships are proven to be happier. But what does this mean for professional life? Can managers really be authentic? And should they be at all?

Table of Contents: 

  1. Being authentic: What does that actually mean?

  2. New Leadership: A Definition

  3. The benefits of being authentic as a leader

  4. The limits of authenticity at work

  5. Truthful Authenticity: The Path to Being an Authentic Leader

Frequently asked questions and answers about authenticity as a leader:

What does Truthful Authenticity mean? 

Having an awareness of one’s own needs and emotions, expressing them rather than acting them out, and enabling others to do the same: That’s what Truthful Authenticity means. 

What does authentic leadership mean?

Authentic leaders behave in a way that is consistent with their own values and being. In addition, they are predictable for their employees, can inspire and motivate without revealing too much private information. 

What are the advantages of authenticity in leaders? 

Authentic leaders not only have happier employees. Their employees are also more motivated, more engaged and feel more commitment to their employer. 

Being authentic: What does that actually mean?

“Be who you are.” We’ve probably all heard that in some context or another. And basically, that’s also the very definition of authenticity: behaving in a way that is true to who you are. Not pretending or falsifying yourself. 

This also means admitting one‘s own weaknesses, showing emotions and thus also being vulnerable. Whoever is authentic solves self-doubt and complexes – and is therefore also demonstrably happier. 

Unreflective authenticity

Simply acting out every emotion, regardless of losses: Some people may find this authentic, but so-called unreflective authenticity quickly brings serious problems with it, especially in everyday professional life. If you don’t seriously question yourself and your emotions, you’ll quickly put yourself out of business.

Reflected authenticity

On the other hand, those who relentlessly reflect on themselves must also admit their own weaknesses. This is not always easy, but it is what makes truly authentic people. They should therefore always ask themselves the questions: How do I deal with conflicts? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Or: How quickly do I get angry?

New Leadership: A Definition

The demands placed on managers are increasing, and the world of work is changing rapidly. New Leadership wants to offer a solution to the challenges that managers have to overcome. Together with Karlshochschule and companies from various industries, we analyzed and broke down various leadership concepts. 

All concepts had to meet different requirements:

  • Scientifically verifiable and supported by scientific work.

  • Oriented to people

  • Demonstrable success

  • Frequently used by managers

The result: 17 leadership principles.

The 17 Leadership Principles.

The Leadership Principles describe the development from the old style of leadership to the New Leadership Style. You will soon find a detailed description of the individual principles in our online magazine. 

  1. Mindset: Integrative thinking

  2. Behavioral model: True authenticity

  3. Identity: Leaders who are themselves

  4. Mindfulness: an awareness that their own inner world influences the organization

  5. Decision Making: Autonomous decision making and problem solving

  6. Relationships: Deep relationships beyond professional roles

  7. Culture: Diversity for sustainable solutions

  8. Development: learning opportunities based on people’s individual potential

  9. Motivation: Letting people do what they love to do

  10. Organization: Organizations as social organisms

  11. Viability: things must be partially destroyed to create something new

  12. Adaptation: leading through purpose, networks and agility

  13. Workplace: people work where they are inspired and empowered

  14. Performance: evaluating organizational performance based on social and environmental value propositions

  15. Innovation: embedding intrapreneurship

  16. Technology: technology must serve people

  17. Stakeholder: Stakeholder engagement is critical for positive impact

The benefits of authenticity as a leader.

So it’s clear: Being authentic makes you happier, studies show that quite unequivocally. But in professional life, authenticity has a much broader impact. Because authentic leaders create an atmosphere that also positively influences their employees:

More motivation: If you are authentic as a leader, you become predictable. Your employees know what they can expect from you. This creates trust – and motivates.

More commitment: As an authentic leader, you are much more than just a number in the executive suite. You can inspire and motivate. And that also increases the commitment of your employees.

More job satisfaction: If you feel understood by your boss and perceive him or her as approachable and authentic, you will be happier at work. 

More commitment: A team under an authentic leader is more motivated and committed. Authenticity therefore makes you not only more visible, but also more successful. 

The limits of authenticity at work.

There may be no such thing as “too much” authenticity in private life, but there is in the professional world. Because especially in leadership, there is a limit to being authentic: your private life. Private problems or generous openness regarding private information are almost always out of place on the job. 

As a leader, you should instead find a new kind of authenticity for yourself. This can mean behaving authentically and living up to your personality without revealing too much private information. 

Professional authenticity is based on four basic building blocks:

Self-confidence: Only those who are self-confident can be authentic.

Self-reflection: See “reflected authenticity”. This also means admitting unpleasant things to oneself.

Values: Being aware of your own values and asserting them creates trust.

Predictability: It is especially important for your employees that they can count on you. Even in stressful situations.

Truthful Authenticity: The path to becoming an authentic leader

Being authentic sounds simple at first. But being truly authentic is hard work that can’t be done “on the fly”. The path to “truthful authenticity” is fundamentally divided into three steps. 

Awareness: The key to change

The first step: Developing an awareness of oneself, one‘s own needs and emotions. This prevents us from reacting only emotionally to stimuli instead of responding rationally. Awareness of one‘s own response is the key to change.

Articulation: Naming Emotions 

The second step: noticing and naming your own emotions.

When you notice that you are about to respond emotionally, mentally take a step back for a moment. Ask yourself: How am I feeling right now? And what would be an appropriate response to the stimulus? 

This allows you to express and address your emotions instead of being led by them. 

If you talk about your feelings instead of acting them out – and allow others to do the same – you are truly authentic.

Real authenticity: leading instead of manipulating.

Being authentic as a means to an end: Fake authenticity is not only noticeable at some point, but is also extremely unfair to your employees. If, on the other hand, you set out to be truly authentic, gain an awareness of your own needs and express them, you will also benefit from “truthful authenticity”. 

New Leadership at triangility: Leading yourself in order to lead others.

Would you like to become a leader of the modern generation? Then you have found your consultants in triangility. We will accompany you on your way to a sustainable future – and provide you with the skills you need to become a successful leader. Whether with workshops, training sessions or completely individually. 

Get to know us without any obligation!


New Leadership Training, Principles, Competences and Practices for thriving in the 21st century

Junior Leadership Program, Develop your Leadership Talents into Future Leaders