A Reflection on Authentic Leadership
Submitted by Marco Guzman Jr., MHA, RDCS
Leadership reputations are made or lost during times of crisis (Chhaya, 2020). The Covid crisis has been one of the most difficult times for healthcare professionals. Leading during a tumultuous time can reveal character and strength but can also uncover leadership opportunities. In the following, we will review insights from this course, leadership purpose, and strategies to become an authentic healthcare leader.
Looking back at past decisions and outcomes can benefit leaders into a clearer direction. At the same time, recognizing passion and goals will help identify one’s true north that can assist leaders to articulate their future actions. A true north creates a level of genuine leadership and helps leaders follow a set of principles to deliver on their mission and goals. In return, it will empower others to step up and lead. This creates a culture of purpose and action that can optimize an organization’s effectiveness (George, 2008).
I have had the privilege to care for patients for over 25 years. Throughout my journey, I have come across many leaders who made an impact and some managers that simply managed. There is a difference between the two and my purpose is to lead by engaging, understanding, inspiring, and supporting others to deliver exceptional care. This is accomplished by leading with authenticity and always checking the pulse of the organization. Leading with purpose and having the listening and adaptability skills to change course preserves a healthy environment. Yet, a strong culture cannot endure if a leader is not authentic or genuine.
We mentioned earlier that leading and managing are different. “Authentic leadership is described as the root component of effective leadership required to build trust and a healthier work environment” (Wong, Laschinger & Cummings, 2010). To remain authentic, one needs to be transparent and compassionate during difficult times which helps others feel a sense of camaraderie. The level of uncertainty can be felt deeper at the frontline and so it is crucial to round with employees and make connections. Leaders may not know all the answers but focusing on emotional intelligence and expressing compassion fosters a supportive environment. As a leader, I try to build trust and encourage autonomy. This strategy has served our department well as we develop people into learners and eventually leaders. Focusing on developing others improves the level of quality and excellence within the organization.
Collaboration and teaming
Forging sincere relationships with others builds strong teams and improves team performance. Teaming is the engine of organizational learning, and this course focused heavily on bringing teams together to generate new ideas and solve problems (Edmundson and Schein, 2012). Involving people with different backgrounds and expertise is the core of teaming. There is value to having different points of views when strategizing. Our team always looks for feedback from different perspectives. Our speaking up culture lets the group discuss new issues and creates a collaborative approach to problem solving.
This course continued to show emphasis on the power of networking and mentoring. Collaborating with other leaders who have similar passions on leadership, or an effective style has been extremely helpful. I will continue to work with mentors and offer my experience to others which builds a developing and learning culture. A true measure of culture occurs when leadership is not present, and at times, leadership’s vision does not extend across the team. An inconsistent leadership team can be counterproductive towards positive culture building, and impact leadership authenticity. In my experience, this is where I have seen many teams fail. Genuine leadership sometimes lacks at the operational level. And this is fair as some leaders have too much to juggle, and less time remains for leadership development. But other times, some leaders lack the tools or energy to inspire, support, and engage their teams. For this reason, it is important to discuss effective leadership strategies, align values, reach a standard and a consensus that can be sustained across the team. This is something I will begin to do with my team.
Being self-aware and showing empathy while drawing from experience creates authentic connections. Having one’s finger on organizational pulse is important and a genuine leader should reach out to struggling areas as needed. Successful organizations build and foster learning environments that enable others to speak up. Developing an organization of learners will create a team that have high adaptability for change. The theory of teaming will ensure they are prepared to work under complicated external environments and deliver solutions using different perspectives. Finding one’s true north and having a team of mentors that can help with the leadership journey is crucial for personal and team success. Finally, having a strong leadership team with aligned values and effective communication can improve and sustain a healthy organizational culture.
- Chhaya, N., (2020). Forbes: Here are the Top 5 Leadership Challenges During the Coronavirus Pandemic https://www.forbes.com/sites/niharchhaya/2020/03/23/here-are-the-top-five-leadership-challenges-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/?sh=3e065e465984
- Edmundson, A., and Schein, E. (2012). Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy.
- George, B., McLean, A., Craig, N. (2008). Finding Your True North: A Personal Guide.
- Wong, A.C., Laschinger, H, & Cummings, G.G. (2010). Authentic leadership, and job satisfaction: the mediating themediating role of empowerment. Journal of Advanced Nursing (9), 947-959.