Leadership is something we often think of in very literal terms, and we usually associate it with work. But if we shift our thinking just a bit, it can actually be something much more meaningful: a way of living more authentically and fearlessly. That’s a concept executive and investor Fran Hauser explores in her upcoming book, The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate, which is designed to empower women to align more fully with their core values. Taking inspiration from the book, here are 5 ways to be a more authentic leader.
5 Ways to Be an Authentic Leader
1. Align your actions with your values.
When your actions in the world don’t reflect who you truly are, you might feel off balance, even stagnant in life. The flip side of that is the easy flow and joy you feel in life and work when you do things that line up with who you really are. Just as you would realign the wheels of a car, you may find you can adjust the connection between your head and your heart to find a better balance.
2. Be courageous.
Self-doubt can make you feel stuck or hesitant to reach for what you want. What you need to cast that doubt aside is courage—a deeply rooted faith in your inner strength and knowledge. Think about where you are today and acknowledge that it is the result of a long, courageous journey through the unknown. What motivated you through that? What are you passionate about now? True success will come from connecting to that sense of purpose. Anytime you feel self-doubt creeping in, take small steps as you open yourself up to the possibilities that lie before you.
3. Find your voice.
To communicate in your own strong voice, you must first understand what’s keeping you quiet. Are you afraid that others might judge what you say as imperfect? Picture that obstacle and observe how it feels in your body. Are there stories you tell yourself about how you might fail? Let go of those stories, and you will rob your fear of its power. Find a situation in your life where you can take a risk and speak up, focusing on the true value of what you have to say, without fear getting in your way.
4. Set healthy boundaries.
Do you say yes to what others ask of you, when deep down you want to say no? This is not the best or most honest way to have rich relationships. Instead, think about how you might be able to turn your attention inward and prioritize your own needs. This isn’t exactly saying no to others. When you are able to set healthy boundaries for yourself, you’ll find you have more energy to support and connect with the people who matter to you.
5. Invest in yourself.
Being absorbed in the demands of daily life can make it difficult to think about what will enrich and satisfy you in the long term. Take the time to look at your life and career with a broader scope. What will feed your passion and help you grow? What can you do to cultivate genuine relationships and open up new opportunities? This is how you reinvest your attention and energy in your future.