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How to play your 3 authenticity cards – heart, habit and harmony



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Through her new book, Yours Truly: Staying Authentic in Leadership and Life, award-winning researcher and professor of leadership at IE Business School, Margarita Mayo, invites HR leaders to develop your unique style to lead people and build an authentic workplace.

In this article, as well as the book, you will find a practical toolkit of the nine competences behind the 3Hs of authentic leadership. Yours Truly uncovers where you have strengths and areas for developing your authenticity in leadership and life following the 3Hs –Heart, Habit and Harmony.

How do you play the authenticity cards?

1. Heart

Play the card of emotional authenticity. Heart is the emotional factor that characterises authentic leaders. Learn to look inside yourself to find and cultivate passion. Emotional authenticity includes ways to increase self-awareness, to stay humble and to share parts of your life story with others.

  • Passion: Our life stories are the most powerful source of our passion. Do things that are important to you.
  • Humility: Stand by what you believe in, but be quick to admit your mistakes.
  • Storytelling: A truly inspiring story encapsulates the meaning of what your company does.

Part one of Yours Truly shows that when leaders play the heart card, employees report higher engagement at work. Research has found that happy people make others happier.

Write a letter to your younger self about a learning-related struggle to develop mental toughness.

2. Habit

Play the card of behavioural authenticity. The habit of learning is the key behavioural element of authentic leaders. Seek out honest feedback and develop a growth mind-set. It is not easy, but through certain mental exercises, a kind of “mind-fitness,” you can teach yourself to think differently.

  • Growth Mindset: Think of a time when you overcame a learning struggle and solved a problem.
  • Optimism: Create a safety culture for learning, by turning bad news into opportunities and by looking at the return on failure.
  • Resilience: Write a letter to your younger self about a learning-related struggle to develop mental toughness.

Part two of Yours Truly explains how becoming authentic is a work in progress. Staying faithful to yourself in business and life requires constant work; learning new skills, taking risks and adapting to new situations.

3. Harmony

Play the card of social authenticity. Harmony is the final characteristic of authentic leaders that guarantees the social enrichment of teams and organisations. Social authenticity describes ways to look after others.

  • Exemplarity: Be true to many stakeholders by showing a sense of presence. Walk the talk and lead by example.
  • Community: Seek harmonious unity around shared company values to create authentic workplaces for others to shine.
  • Legacy: Keep in mind the future while thinking about your legacy today.

Part three of Yours Truly illustrates how leading by example, building a community and leaving a positive legacy contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth.

Calibrate which of the nine attributes behind the 3Hs of authentic leadership match your goals and the culture of your workplace.

Photo / Provided


Margarita Mayo is an award-winning researcher and professor of leadership at IE Business School in Madrid. The author of Yours Truly: Staying Authentic in Leadership and Life (Bloomsbury, 2018), she was part of the Thinkers50, as a 2017 Radar Thinker.

Margarita Mayo will soon be visiting Singapore and Malaysia to speak at Training & Development Asia. In her presentation, she will test your leadership abilities by challenging you to move beyond traditional models of unipersonal heroic leadership to new models of collaborative and authentic leadership that focuses on humility, openness to feedback and long-term vision.

The biggest takeaway from her presentation would be the real life business cases that will help to shed light on the type of leadership that is needed in the current context of disruption.

Reserve your attendance at the regional conference to catch Margarita Mayo live:

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