I spend a lot of time with people talking about the topic of “authenticity.” What I’ve noticed is that we say we value this trait/skill from the front of the room, yet we rarely practice authenticity in the back of the room. If we really want to change the tone of leadership so that it makes a difference, and restores faith in the generations coming behind us, we have to make a shift.
It is not longer good enough to use your position or title to be the validator of your message. Our world is demanding a level of authenticity as the determining factor of relevance. This is really key. You will not be listened to, nor heard if people perceive you as being fake. They want truth, experience, and insight that is relevant to their lives, that matters.
The issue with authenticity is that “what you see is what you get,” or at least it’s supposed to be that way. For a person in a position of leadership to expose their humanity, the cost is much different than for any of their direct reports, or the “crowd” watching them.
The disconnect is that what you see is never fully reality
Context always determines the level of authenticity. We may applaud the leader for their candor, however we crucify them for their lack of perfection when they “fall from grace.” WE can’t have it both ways…
What we see on stage is exactly what the leader wants us to see. Each of us, project publicly the things we believe are acceptable to the crowd and context around us. This “public self” or mask, (if you’re familiar with Joharis Window…) is both a layer of self protection and risk.
- Self protection, because our guard is on and we know what has worked publicly in the past to help us look like we have it all together.
- Risk, because we all long to be accepted, more so validated even when life is messy and we have “bad hair days.” So we dip our toe into the water of risk, putting just a little bit more vulnerability out there than the last time.
Navigating these things in my personal and professional life has fostered a deep passion in this arena for me. I love empowering others so that their “outside matches their inside,” and it’s the driving force behind why I created an online eLearning course on the topic.
(If your interested in taking some next steps and learning to apply this concept, please check out my FREE course on “Vulnerability: Developing your capacity to risk for your growth“)
I Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic of authenticity. Leave a comment below, or join me HERE