Wendy recently asked LinkedIn’s Fortune100 Coaches Network (F1CN) Group: Challenging thinking about authenticity. What’s your view?
Here’s how I answered:
My view: The buzz of ‘authenticity’ is well-meaning — too many decent people simply aren’t mustering (or demonstrating) the courageousness needed, on a regular enough basis, to be (or seen as) truly authentic leaders. So if all the ‘authenticity’ talk is nudging them in the right direction, then bravo.
Yet my view extends to the belief that ‘authenticity’ not the end-all/be-all that it’s so often posited to be.
I’ll put it this way: If I’m a total jerk, then “being true to myself; maintaining strict coherence between what I feel and what I say or do; and maintaining values-based choices,” as the article suggests I do, then I’m not becoming a better leader — I’m becoming even more of a jerk! And with all respect to the kind, decent people out there, there are an awful lot of flat-out jerks in leadership positions these days. Hey, under the right set of circumstances, even the best-of-the-best can be a total jerks, you know.
So I coach my clients to go beyond ‘authenticity.’ I coach them to be their better selves when leading others — to be their best selves. Does that, sometimes, challenge their courageousness? Yup. But I offer one of my ‘leadership haiku’ to address the concern:
why does the FIRST step
always seem more difficult
BEFORE, than AFTER?!
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