top of page

Authenticity, leadership and the needs of your followers.

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

As leaders, we often try and emulate others.

Our brains try and understand the complexities of leadership by looking at leader qualities embodied in famous historical figures or those around us. There is plenty of information out there that investigate and debate the qualities that are worth admiring and imitating.

That’s great, only problem with that – it is not very authentic.

You are not being you.

You are trying to be someone else.

Not only is that tiring, but those who follow you will see right through it.

There is a wonderful article from Henna Inam about the importance of being authentic. However, how can you be authentic, whilst also grow and become an effective leader, without learning directly from other leaders?

Have you ever thought about the needs of those who follow you?

Changing the conversation from:

How do I need to lead, to how to the people around need me to lead.

Here are two tools that I think are particularly useful.

Needs of Followers

According to Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, co-authors of Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, it is easy for leaders to misunderstand what followers need. From their Gallup CliftonStrengths research they found the clear answer sits in 4 options; trust, compassion, stability, and/or hope.

It might be all of them, it might be one of them – but knowing will help you aim your leadership in the right direction.

- Hope

is for those teams who need inspiring and understanding of their

brightness of future.

- Stability

is key for those followers who rely on security and a consistent rhythm.

- Trust

is integral for those who depend on integrity, honesty, and authenticity.

- Compassion

is critical for demonstrating the care of followers across their whole world

(work and home).

That is great, but how to I find out what they need from me?

It might seem revolutionary – but I recommend you start by asking them.

Emotional Culture and Safe Spaces.

How can you create a safe environment where people are willing to be vulnerable and share what they need from you as a leader?

I recommend starting with a session where you use something like the Emotional Culture Deck. It is a tool for having conversations with your team or followers to uncover what truly motivates them and map desired team culture. It allows people to go in their reflections, be vulnerable about their personal needs, and creates openness in people.

People might not be able to convey what they need from you outright, but they will be able to tell stories about how they feel when things go right, and when things are off track. Once they have shone their light into the dark corners of how they want to feel at work, your job as a leader is to listen, engage and act.

So in a nutshell.

Be authentic, because the people you lead are unique too,

celebrate this uniqueness by embracing it.


- Create an environment where you can ask people what they need from you,

and they can honestly share this information with you.

- Lead based on what your followers need, rather than something that isn't authentic

to yourself or the situation.

At Blue Mercury Leadership, we are both CliftonStrengths and ECD accredited practitioners - using these two tools together creates both empathetic and strengths based teams.

If this is something that you or your team would like to understand more, please get in touch at our website we would love to help.


bottom of page