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5 tips to unleash your authentic self as a female leader in the workplace

Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
Written on the 14 February 2023

Are you true to yourself in the workplace? Do you find yourself trying to live up to the organisation’s norms and expectations in a way that compromises your values? Let’s face it is nothing but exhausting being something we are not!

Let’s explore how you can be your authentic self, be a fabulous woman in leadership and be more successful than you could imagine. 

Yes, it is possible! I share five great tips to help you achieve your authentic self in the workplace. But first, let’s agree on what being authentic is. You will be pleased to know that much of the research tells us being authentic isn’t a personality trait – it is something we can learn.  I like the description offered by the Centre for Creative Leadership: authentic leadership is a healthy alignment between your values and your behaviour. This is a simple enough way of understanding authenticity – so let’s dig into what that means for you being an authentic female leader.

  • Be self-aware

Identify and articulate the choices and trade-offs you are willing to make. You are ambitious and know you can gain more from your career. High achieving women who demonstrate the greatest authenticity are in touch with what is important to them. So, how do you identify what is important to you? Why have you left one job for another? What was the catalyst? Are there life stage considerations now that you need to prioritise like parenting or achieving financial goals? By undertaking this exercise, you become so much more self-aware and know exactly what you will and wont trade off so you can be honest with yourself. This honestly is key to authenticity. 

  • Be intentional 

Highly authentic female leaders are very intentional about their choices; this follows from understanding what you will and won’t trade off. As an authentic woman in leadership, you will find solutions to balance your work and personal life. This takes conscious effort; being true to your feelings, your work and career and your family aspirations. This can be challenging at first but is worth it.

  • Engage support

Engaging the support of those closest to you is crucial – this could be a partner, spouse, or your family – these people are on this journey with you. You might be deciding to be an authentic leader, however, implementing this decision will involve ensuring everyone close to you understands your decisions – and most importantly, why you have made them. Being an authentic woman leader means designing your life in accordance with your top priorities and living them intentionally both at work and at home.

  • Be action-orientated

Take action: Having made your decisions like any good strategy you need to implement. Your actions can be a series of small steps designed to align your values and behaviours over time. You might decide to reduce the number of hours you work in the weekend to spend quality time improving your personal relationships – don’t worry if your first instinct is to say but this will affect your work performance. In fact, you will find the exact opposite will occur. You will have taken back your personal power, and with your greater sense of well-being and resilience you will be a far more authentic and productive leader.

  • Trust your instincts

Remember to trust your instincts; acting and leading authentically requires you to sometimes go against the advice of others. Being an authentic leader means you will often be required to stand up for your values and take risks; but these are risks you know sit well with your intentions and values. As you develop your resilience this will set your course of what’s right for you and you will be surprised at how many others will admire your courage and commitment. Kelly Azevedo, for Forbes, Founder, says look to women you admire and trust yourself!

As they say the things that are worth doing in life may be paved with hard work; becoming and critically remaining an authentic female leader is hard work, but with commitment to yourself and your authenticity living and leading with authenticity can and will provide great rewards.

Whether you’re looking to make a difference in the world or simply want to find a company that shares your values, we can help you find the right fit. With our extensive network and personalised approach to executive search and recruitment, we’ll work with you to find the perfect match for your organisation. Please book in for a free chat here.

Christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell is the Senior Partner at Meritos, an executive search and recruitment business working with purpose-driven organisations. If you're interested in connecting with Christine, you can find her on LinkedIn here. You can also reach her via email at [email protected]
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Questions to ask to help you understand a candidate:

1. Describe your ideal working environment.

2. What do you enjoy about your current workplace?

3. How does a manager get the best out of you?

4. Describe the best team that you’ve ever worked in.

The reasons why I ask these questions:

1. Reason

2. Reason

3. Reason

4. Reason

Insights by Christine O'Donnell