How important is Authentic Leadership?
What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity has become a big catch phrase in leadership today, yet so often those speaking about it have no real sense of what it actually means in application to leadership. If you are a leader who likes to stay on the cutting edge you know that being an authentic leader is no longer a preference, it’s a requirement!
When it comes to Authentic Leadership, we must ask ourselves whether we are fooling ourselves, when we say we are indeed authentic.
Consider this: If you and I were to do a walk around survey andask people, (Leaders) if they are authentic, what do you think they would say?
You guessed it; they would likely say “of course!”(and probably look at us like we were idiots for even asking)
So, just stop for a minute and ask yourself, what you think/believe being authentic means.
Asked that same question, it seems most people would come up with a fairly similar answer. However, if we slightly change the question to the active by asking:
“Do you feel that you are behaving authentically in all the different aspect of your life, including how you lead?” We may find that we get a less certain response.
The truth is most folks don’t really understand what authenticity is and that it is in fact both very simple and quite complex.
When we think of authentic leaders we may think of individuals likeMother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr or any number of other outstanding human beings.
However, when we read the literature it would appear that Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and many other tyrants appear to have been quite authentic.
Webster’s Definition of Authentic
Not false or copied; Genuine; Real. That would pretty much cover Gengis, Adolf and whole bunch of other folks you might NOT want to work for.
Here’s my Full Monty Leadership Tip for you:
Authenticity and integrity go hand in hand. However, they don’t necessarily meet up with or marry; compassion, empathy, caring or even the high-quality communication skills that are required for great leadership.
Having compassion, empathy, caring or high-quality communication without authenticity and integrity guarantees leadership impotence.
So, next time you claim authenticity, you may want to check the list above because true Authentic Leadership is a rare gem.
Most leaders wear the title of leader as a mask to hide behind.
Should you be courageous enough to actually be a fully authentic leader, those who follow your guidance will do so with Fierce Loyalty.
Having revealed yourself from behind the mask, your Top Talent, particularly Millennial talent will know that they can trust you. This trust is the foundation upon which all lasting relationships are built.
Finally, in so doing you will have laid down a model that by virtue of your authenticity will shift your follower onto the path of becoming authentic leaders themselves.
As a leadership consultant I will often hear the question: “How can I be more authentic?”
Sadly the question itself tells me how removed that leader is from being real. Authenticity means being real in all that you do, being congruent in whom you are in any and all environments. Being real and transparent about what you believe and making sure that your actions (and leadership) are all aligned. However, you must know this; even all that is not enough to make you a great leader without compassion, empathy, caring, vision or high-quality communication you will fail.
Dov Baron is a headline speaker for global conferences on leadership, influence, business and embracing change (2015 Inc. Magazine's Top 100 Leadership Speakers to hire for your next conference). He's also the leading authority on Authentic Leadership and Leadership Succession; he prefers to call it, “Full Monty Leadership and Leadership Archetypes.”