Imagine learning authenticity along with history, science, and Algebra in school. How might our lives—and our culture—be different? Being authentic is more important today than perhaps ever before, particularly for business leaders.
CEOs, executives, and others in upper management walk a fine line balancing between surety and vulnerability. How much sharing and honesty is too much when interacting with employees? Others in leadership? And how can one remain courageously authentic in the face of apathy or even distrust in the workplace?
Purposeful Leadership Requires a New Brand of Authenticity
If you’ve felt that you’re struggling uphill against a growing weight of distrust among your team you’re not alone. A cultural switch toward distrust has grown significantly in recent years. One example: a Pew Research Study found that approximately half of Americans distrust both the government and social media sites with their private data.
This sense of distrust is explored in the article, “America is Having a Moral Convulsion” published in The Atlantic. It refers to Samuel P. Huntington, a political scientist who observed that every 60 years or so brings upheaval in the societal norms in our country. Could this be one of those times in the U.S.?
Feeling that you’re slogging uphill in your trek toward being a purposeful leader who is also courageously authentic makes sense. It’s a challenge to build trust and authenticity in today’s culture. Communicating your vision is an important part of that process as is building authenticity into your life—professional and personal. Relating to others is another important piece of the puzzle. Leadership development plans frequently include a support aspect, too. Partnering with a trusted mentor or coach will help lift the burden from your shoulders.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.”-Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady
Cultivating Authenticity as a Leader
Remaining who you are at your core is an integral part of becoming an authentic leader. Think of your work with team members as being a film and you as the editor. Editors know what parts of a production are essential and focus their time and attention on building those up. Show employees the raw, uncut footage and they could quickly get confused, become bored, or worse, leave the theater.
Instead, you carefully edit what is seen and what’s not. That doesn’t mean that you’re of two minds or that you’re being insincere. Rather, that you’re bringing the most valuable, most powerful parts of yourself to the production. Effective leaders know what to show and what to leave on the cutting room floor.
Signs of Courageous Authenticity
Looking for key elements that signify you’re being courageously authentic? Reflect on the following questions.
- Are you consistent? Do you show up when you say you will? Are you listening closely to team members’ issues and making progress to support them? Do employees and others in management know they can count on you, time and time again, to act according to your values?
- Are you being yourself? You’re not Jeff Bezos, Ariana Huffington, or Sundar Pichai. Trying to be only detract from the unique gifts and talents you have to offer the world. Is there someone in your life—a mentor, a coach, a friend—who will hold you accountable for your actions in this area?
- Are you scared? Contrary to popular belief, fear isn’t a sign something is wrong. In many cases, it’s a sign that you’re doing the exact thing you need to do. Lacking skills and doubting your abilities but doing the work anyway is a great way to launch yourself forward in your career and personal life. The trick is to get the support you need to thrive.
Being courageously authentic isn’t something that will happen overnight. There are no courses, books, or gurus who can make you authentic. Instead, it’s like a muscle, built over time as you use it. Strengthening that muscle and building your authenticity is a lifelong venture, one that will serve you—and all those in your circle—well.
Do you struggle to be authentic in the face of so much daily noise? Get in touch today to learn more about how Anthony can support you in this area.