Authenticity

One of the more interesting aspects of Tell the Truth without Blame or Judgment is ‘authenticity’.  It is critical that leaders reveal themselves – some might say that it should only be in a very calculated, measured way.  Others might say that it is easier to build trust when leaders let it all hang out.  The jury is out for me but there are a couple of things that are really clear:

  1. Leaders must reveal enough of themselves that people can recognize them as fellow human beings and find something to connect with.  A little vulnerability, a little sadness, pride in a child – something.
  2. Leaders can and should show emotion – both positive and negative – but they must also demonstrate that they have mastery over their own emotions and will not let emotion control their choices or action.  Self control and the observable demonstration of self control is critical.
  3. Under no circumstances does it serve a leader to show contempt or derision for a follower. Or for anyone in front of anyone but the closest and most trusted.
  4. Leaders can respond to just about anything, but it makes most sense to choose to respond to what has heart and meaning – to explore and expand on ideas that will make an impact in the memory.

I am a fairly spontaneous person, and I love to entertain using language. I once had an employee say to me “you just say whatever comes into your head don’t you?  I just love how authentic you are.” All I could wonder is ‘are you kidding?’  Because the answer is, although on the rare occasion my mouth gets ahead of my brain (ok maybe less rare than I’d like) , generally I am very careful about what I choose to say.  I show just enough so that my people know what it is important to me, how I think about things, and how I make decisions.  If I said everything that came into my head I would be out of a job and probably in jail.  With no friends.

More on this topic next time.

One thought on “Authenticity

  1. Hi Madeleine,

    This is a great post – thank you again for sharing your insight.

    It is with a mix of gratitude, amusement, disappointment and sometimes downright anger that many of us look at today’s leaders, whether they be in the community, corporate world, government, church or any other organization of influence.

    What appears to attract the most press are the ones who either let us down or infuriate us with stories of how they acted in their own best interests at the expense of someone else.

    Today’s leader faces many great challenges – the challenges of the world are broad, deep and complex.

    What makes the challenge of today’s leaders even more complex is how we define and establish our leaders.

    Think about we seek in a leader. At a minimum, we expect them to be charismatic, passion-filled, visionary, connected, value-rich, idea-abundant, brilliant in statesmanship, powerful in negotiating skills and plentiful in morality and ethics. Some of us expect even more than this.

    We expect them to be perfect.

    In a world that rewards people who embrace this model and then punishes them when they almost inevitably fail to live up to the expectations of others, who owns responsibility for these leaders?

    Is it the fault of the people who erect a facade in order to obscure who they really are or is it the fault of the people who prefer to vote for a facade than someone who is truly authentic and transparent, even if the news is bad?

    We all own the responsibility of choosing the type of leaders who attains a position of influence over us.

    Perhaps we should be less disappointed in the leaders that the system produces and be more cognizant of the type of system that causes leaders to have to be something other than that which they are.

    We need to embrace a dialog built around transparency and authenticity and then perhaps we will find more opportunity to select strong leaders whom we can collaborate with to produce a better result.

    Take care and create a great day!

    Harry

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