5 ways to stay authentic and adapt your leadership style

May 4, 2023

I recently caught up with two previous coaching clients — who also happen to be former colleagues.

One shared a question they’d both been pondering about leadership style. A question which neither of them had a clear answer to:

How do you stay authentic as a leader, while adjusting to various personality types in your team?

You see, they’d worked for managers with different personalities and contrasting leadership styles. After observing the impact both leaders had on them and their team, they started to consider what they could learn from this experience. Specifically, when it came to how they lead others and manage up.

Because staying true to who you are — while remaining agile enough to modify your leadership style — is a delicate balancing act. After speaking to them about their experiences, I thought it would be a great topic to address here. 

The secret to authentic leadership, while adapting your style to suit different personalities, is to focus on what YOU can control.

Because here’s the truth. You can’t control others — only yourself and how you respond to them. 

When you focus on what’s within your control to change, you will shift your style to suit your team. 

Read on to discover 5 ways to lead authentically, by focusing on what’s within your control at work. You’ll learn practical examples to apply to your own career so you can adapt your leadership style — while staying true to who you are!


What makes a great leader? Well, it’s not about having a particular personality or leadership style. It’s about authenticity — staying true to yourself, whatever your style is.

As an authentic leader, you’re not full of ego, creating a false impression or trying to be someone you’re not. You’re genuine, ‘real’ and lead with your unique personality and values. It’s about having confidence in yourself, the ability to inspire and motivate others and make an impact.

Authentic leadership is a conscious choice, which you have to work at daily. It requires you to cultivate a high level of self-awareness. Having emotional intelligence and an awareness of how you behave, communicate — and the impact it has on others.

When you start with self-awareness, you will stay authentic as a leader — and give others permission to do the same.


The second aspect of emotional intelligence is having an awareness of others. The truth is, it’s easier to relate to and lead those who are more like you. But this doesn’t mean your way is the only way!

Focusing on what you can control means being conscious of your own biases, other people’s styles and open to different approaches. Some people are more introverted or extroverted; big picture, visionary thinkers or focused on the details. Individual results may motivate others — or collaboration and the success of the team.

Take the time to listen and observe others. What are they saying — or not saying? Always put yourself in the shoes of your team member or manager before communicating or deciding how to respond to them.


Another critical aspect of authentic leadership is building trust and connection with your team. Take the time to get to know each team member as a human being. Be proactive about developing a relationship with your manager as well.

When managing up or down, consider different personalities and adjust your style accordingly. You may enjoy a group lunch or after work drinks to build relationships with your team. Yet introverted individuals could feel more comfortable in a 1:1 situation, so consider a coffee catch-up with them instead.

Growing successful relationships comes down to one quality: effective communication. Make the effort to understand each team member’s goals, challenges, motivations and how you can support them. How do they like work delegated or feedback delivered?

Aim to have monthly conversations with your team about their career goals and development — as well as performance. Also, communicate your needs and ask your boss for ongoing feedback too! When you focus on connection and share authentically, you build trust with your team.


Scrolling through my LinkedIn feed recently, I came across a poll which asked: ‘Is it important to be vulnerable as a leader?’ The response was a resounding YES. As Brené Brown says:

“Vulnerability is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. It’s not weakness, it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Vulnerability isn’t about over-sharing — it’s about being professional, yet transparent. In the workplace, this looks like acknowledging when you make a mistake and apologising if necessary. Or saying: ‘Great question. I don’t know the answer but let me find out and come back to you!’

Because when you have the courage to be ‘real’ and vulnerable, you will always lead with authenticity.


How do you adjust your leadership style during moments of conflict? Despite your best efforts, you may encounter difficult situations at times. If this happens, remember: you can’t control others or external circumstances — only your response.

A common example when leading others is how to handle different personalities in group situations. Say in a team meeting, where more extroverted individuals naturally speak up. What do you do if one person is dominating the conversation — or if a more introverted team member isn’t comfortable speaking up?

Make it safe for them to share. Take the time to ask each person: ‘What would you like to contribute? Have you got any other ideas or anything else to add?’ You could also suggest people come to you directly if there’s something they think of after the meeting.

But what do you do if your leader is a micro-manager, has unreasonable expectations or a big, overbearing personality? In the first instance, state your needs and set a boundary. Then, make them aware of a specific issue, how it’s impacting you and give them the opportunity to address it.

If the situation doesn’t improve, ask for help. Reach out to another leader, a mentor or your HR team for support. Or if it’s an issue impacting others in the team, join forces with a colleague and work out a way to address the situation together.

Here’s the bottom-line. When you focus on what YOU can control, you will remain authentic and effective as a leader — even in challenging situations.

So there you have it. The qualities essential to authentic leadership and practices to focus on to adapt your leadership style to the needs of your team. I hope these tips help you develop your unique leadership style — and grow your career too!

Want help to develop your career and unique leadership style?

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult and find out how coaching with me can support you!

Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified Career + Leadership Coach. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.