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How can organisations promote authentic leadership?

What does a leader look like? Ask that question 20 years ago and you’d have likely heard a description of the alpha male: ruthless, aggressive, cold. This is how leaders have been traditionally portrayed in media and it’s what many of us have experienced in our working lives. However, leaders must evolve alongside our working world. Today, the reign of the alpha male leader is over.

As society has progressed, we’ve realised that there isn’t just one way for leaders to look or behave. There’s now room for different leadership styles. Both employees and employers are looking for authentic leadership. With workplace wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion being top priorities for many organisations, it’s essential to create environments where all employees can bring their genuine selves to work and are supported by their managers and leaders to progress.

Today’s junior employees and middle managers are tomorrow’s C-suite executives. So, businesses need to act now to prepare the next generation of leaders. Employees need to be equipped with the tools, knowledge and networks to progress in their careers. Investing in executive education programmes is one way that organisations can shape their future leaders and promote authenticity in the workplace.

Care and coach in a hybrid world

In recent years, the biggest change to our working world has been the mass transition to remote and hybrid working. It’s no surprise then that there’s a high demand for hybrid leadership skills across all sectors, which has certainly been fast-tracked by the pandemic. Gone are the days of who-can-shout-the-loudest-style leadership, tracking progress on a sales whiteboard or being berated in the boardroom.

The old ‘control and command’ method has been replaced by a coaching-focused culture. In this hybrid, digital age, leaders must employ empathy to build relationships, coach their teams and keep their projects moving, whether in person or virtually. Leading with care and compassion is exactly what courses like our Senior Leader Apprenticeship Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme for leaders in health and social care embed. One of the largest ever professional leadership development programmes, clinical and non-clinical mid-level leaders undertake a unique blended learning experience. Delegates engage with a ‘virtual campus’ which features interactive case studies based on real patient scenarios. Through the programme, delegates are upskilled in professionalism and compassion, returning to work equipped to build trust with patients and transform the leadership culture across the NHS.

Understand yourself and others

Honesty, coaching and collaboration are sought-after skills. They are vital for leaders to understand how people tick and how they work best together. To effectively use these skills and be an authentic leader, you must first take time to self-reflect. Our executive education programmes use psychometric indicators to identify your strengths, weaknesses and how you react under pressure. Understanding different personality types, including your own, allows you to gauge what motivates people, what discourages them and how they want to be rewarded. From here, you can have honest conversations with team members which allows you to coach them to be their best self at work. Once leaders understand individual and team dynamics, they are then well-equipped to build high-performing teams.

Close knowledge gaps

Every journey into leadership is unique. And the skills needed to succeed are changing all the time. From ‘accidental managers’ (people who have excelled in their technical role and been promoted to team leader or middle manager positions), to more experience leaders moving into a new role or company, and even C-suite executives - all leaders need to upskill in our fast-moving business world.

Many delegates join our programmes because they’ve identified a deficiency in their skillset that’s holding them back from reaching their potential. They want to learn new information that’s underpinned by academic concepts. The good news is - leaders aren’t born, they’re made. Organisations can identify what they need from their leaders and find the training to get them there. Whether it’s financial analysis or digital transformation, our programmes allow professionals to upskill in a short amount of time.

Create real-word connections

For new knowledge to be retained, it’s important to put it into practice. Connecting face-to-face with other leaders, hearing their challenges and gaining insight into their leadership style brings the learning to life. Our executive education programmes do exactly that! Delegates understand how new concepts can be applied in real-life situations by a diverse range of leaders. At the end of our programmes, they take these new connections with them throughout their careers. Having a trusted network of professionals is a valuable source of support and inspiration. It also goes a long way to dismiss engrained perceptions of traditional leaders, empowering people to lead in their own authentic way.

Learn more about our executive education programmes >>

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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