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Authentic Leadership: The Keystone of Organizational Culture

The concept of leadership has undergone a significant transformation over the years. Authoritative command and control have given way to a more inclusive, empathetic, and self-aware approach known as authentic leadership. Authentic leaders foster a positive organizational culture that thrives on trust and engagement.

Authentic leadership is rooted in the understanding that leaders must be true to themselves and their values. It’s about leading with conviction, transparency, and integrity. Authentic leaders are self-aware. They recognize their strengths and weaknesses and lead from a place of honesty. They are consistent in their actions and decisions, which align with their core values and beliefs.

Setting the Example

In practice, authentic leadership can manifest in various ways. An authentic leader might share their personal experiences and vulnerabilities with their team, helping to create a culture of openness. They may also encourage diverse opinions and foster a collaborative environment where every voice is heard and valued.

Authentic leaders are often seen as role models. Their commitment to their values inspires others to act with integrity. This can lead to a more engaged and committed workforce, as employees feel aligned with the leader’s vision and trust their guidance. Employees will feel empowered to be authentic and give their honest input and feedback.

Authentic leadership has a profound effect on organizational culture. Employees today look to their leaders for inspiration and not just for direction. Genuine leaders inspire the trust and respect necessary to be the foundation of a strong organizational culture. Authenticity encourages open communication, fosters collaboration, and empowers individuals to take ownership of their work.

Creating a culture that values authenticity starts at the top. Leaders must model and reward the behavior they expect to see in their teams. This means being open about challenges, acknowledging failures, and showing vulnerability. When leaders demonstrate that they are human, they create an environment where employees feel safe to express themselves and are motivated to contribute their best work. For example, in the MedTech industry, most companies’ missions center around helping patients. When there is a quality or regulatory issue with a product, the authentic response is to remediate the issue to make it as safe and effective as it can be and to get it available to patients as soon as possible. It is not just about quick fixes or profits. Authentic leaders push their teams to do the best thing for the patients.

Organizations led by authentic leaders tend to have higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement. This leads to a host of positive outcomes, including increased creativity, better problem-solving, and improved overall performance and quality. And in an age where corporate social responsibility is more important than ever, authentic leadership helps companies build a positive reputation both internally and externally.

Doing the Hard Work

While the benefits are clear, practicing authentic leadership is not without its challenges. It requires a level of self-reflection and personal development that not all leaders may be comfortable with. Additionally, it demands consistency and the courage to make tough decisions that align with one’s values, even when those decisions are unpopular. It requires a long-term focus to stay true to the mission even when short-term problems arise. Fortunately, failures to do the right thing are rare in the MedTech industry. But there are colossal failures from time to time. Take Theranos, the blood diagnostic company that was more focused on attracting investments than on patient benefit or safety. This destroyed the company, cost investors millions of dollars, and landed the so-called leaders in prison.

Authentic leadership is more than just a management style. It’s a commitment to being genuine and principled in all aspects of leadership and business. Leaders who can build and maintain a culture of authenticity can create a lasting competitive advantage. A high-performing culture will help attract and retain top talent. It can also drive customer trust and loyalty.

On my own journey, I have now been with IPM for over 18 years. I can share that the authentic leadership here is a key reason I have stayed so long. Being immersed in a culture of authentic leadership has enabled me to develop and practice my own authentic leadership style.

Do you know any authentic leaders? Are there examples in your company? What effect do they have on you?

June 17, 2024

Author

  • Carl Manthe
    Director and Medical Technology Industry Lead
    Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
    LinkedIn Profile

    Carl Manthe is a Director in IPM’s Los Angeles office and the company’s Medical Technology industry lead. Carl has been managing complex projects for more than 30 years and has extensive experience leading teams in product development, business process optimization, change management, capital expansion, quality, portfolio management, and business integration projects.

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Author

  • Carl Manthe
    Director and Medical Technology Industry Lead
    Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
    LinkedIn Profile

    Carl Manthe is a Director in IPM’s Los Angeles office and the company’s Medical Technology industry lead. Carl has been managing complex projects for more than 30 years and has extensive experience leading teams in product development, business process optimization, change management, capital expansion, quality, portfolio management, and business integration projects.

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