October 20, 2017

How do I live as an authentic leader without destroying my credibility?

Most modern leaders share this concern. In a day and age where everything is public or can become public in a matter of minutes, they always want to ask how they can be true to who they are and maintain the respect, dignity and credibility they need to influence the people who are following them.

I want to say that authenticity, in my opninon, is probably one of the most important if not the most important leadership skills our future leaders will be asked to address. Our new workforce known as Generation Y places a very high value on their leaders living authentically, and they can smell a fake a mile away, so not being authentic is what will damage a leader’s credibility in the future.

Many leaders shy away from talking about authenticity, because the word often conjures up images of a leader being weak or soft or touchy-feely or airing their dirty laundry to the public or exposing their problems openly to employees or constituents. They immediately equate authenticity with the image of lying on a therapist’s couch “bearing it all” and a fear of their secrets being exposed. But this is not what authenticity is about.

Being an authentic leader means having a true passion for your life story and being able to inspire people by telling it. It means being proud of your family and never forgetting where you came from and not being ashamed of your roots or your childhood. It means knowing your values and standing by those values, even if it means making a decision which is unpopular. It means being vulnerable, admitting when you make a mistake and apologizing openly to your followers when you slip and fall. It means taking an unconventional path, even when risky. It means leading from that place which honors who you are and not trying to mimic another leader. While a leader can certainly adopt a few best practices from an admired leader, when you try to imitate someone else is when your leadership starts heading south.

Today, as you are reading this blog post, I want to encourage you to revisit those parts of your life, past and family history which you have seemed to have conveniently “left out” of your leadership. Those parts of your life are possibly the most important traits you need to lead your company into the future..

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