PARTNER: How Authentic Leadership Accelerates Strong Partnerships on a Team

Have you ever considered how important your authentic leadership is in creating a team that’s healthy and in-sync?

I think that stepping into a partnership with an inauthentic leader can feel as frustrating as struggling with a zipper that just won’t budge, despite our tugging and pulling. It leaves us drained, exposed, and stalled on the way to our results.

On the flip side, when two authentic leaders step into a partnership, they both feel energized, included, and in-sync with one another. The team becomes more engaged and productive because the team members trust to have each other’s back.

If you are a team leader whose team is plagued by friction and frustration, are you modeling authentic leadership to your people and encouraging them to do the same?

What’s At Stake?

Your money and your wellbeing.

Research tells us that when we have just one partner at work we trust, we are more engaged. For example, we are 29% more likely to say that we will stay with our company for the next year AND 42% more likely to remain with the current employer for the rest of our career.

Authentic leaders are genuine, real, and true to themselves regardless of the circumstances. Others trust them to behave with a high degree of integrity and character which creates overall safety on the team.

When there is a lack of authentic leadership on a team, team members tend to disengage and ultimately leave. If you are a team leader who must replace an employee, it will cost you money – money you spent recruiting, training, and developing them in the first place. Not to mention, it will cost you your mind’s real estate throughout the process.

Why Does Authentic Partnering Work?

You know you are an authentic leader if you are intentionally fostering real and genuine partnerships on your team. Seems like an obvious statement, yet “when asked if they have ever had a great partnership at work, nearly one-quarter of employees say NO.”

Think of healthy partnering as a zipper that holds your team together (shout out to the authors of Power of 2 for that metaphor).

Zipper teeth are your people. If the zipper teeth are misaligned or out-of-sync, the zipper simply does not work, and your team becomes much more vulnerable to unnecessary friction and frustration.

Invest in your zipper, make it work smoothly with the teeth aligning to one another seamlessly, and you will have a team that’s set up for success and accelerating to its results.

Do you know how to invest in the integrity of your team’s zipper? Are you mindful of the individuals on your team who are frustrated with one other? Do you have a process that can help shift your people from frustrated to in-sync?

How-To’s of Authentic Leadership in Partnering

Simply put, the foundation of any healthy partnership is trust. Trust comes from bringing our real self to others - strengths, weaknesses, and even blind spots. When that happens, the two partners happily enter into a peer agreement that says, “I trust you to do what you say you will do, and you can trust me to do the same.”

There are 2 things that you as a team leader can do to help your people step into healthy partnerships that are based on authentic leadership. Encourage your people to be “sharp” but seek to make your team “well rounded.”

What do I mean?

According to Gallup’s research around leadership and high performing teams, as individuals we should be sharp but as partners within a team, we should be well-rounded.

Each one of us should strive to be sharp by being world class in our strengths and specific skills. Also, we should seek to partner with other sharp people, so that together we can form a well-rounded team of sharp leaders.

Here are 2 tips for how you can do that:

  1. Identify what makes the individuals on your team “sharp.” Ask them questions. Notice what lights them up. Observe which projects drain them. As you get to know your team members’ strengths and skills, you will be able to align them better as partners within your team. In the process, you will call out the most authentic leadership traits out of your people.
  2. Form “well rounded” teams. Clarity is the catalyst of trust in any partnership. Help your well-rounded team see what each “sharp” individual brings into it with their strengths, skills, and experiences. Lead your people to get in sync and aligned like the teeth on a strong zipper. 

Take The Challenge

Here is a challenge for you as you think of how to encourage strong partnerships within your team by coaxing authenticity out of your leaders.

This week invite each team member to reach out to just one colleague on the team, someone they don’t often see. Ask them to set up a coffee-sync, a brief virtual chat.

The goal of their meeting is simply to spend time together and discover what makes them sharp and blunt. That way, if they step into a partnership in the future, they will know how to double down on their own strengths while filling each other’s gaps.

Authentic leadership leads to authentic partnerships; getting there is an important step in developing a strong team and we see that based on our High Performing Team Program.

If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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