3 Simple Steps to True Authenticity in Leadership

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A casual acquaintance bumps into you and asks, “How are you?”

You instinctively reply, “Fine, thank you”, even though you are dealing with a significant problem.

Are you being inauthentic?

A competitor asks, “How’s business?” and you reply, “We’re holding our own,” even though your plan is not on track.

Are you being inauthentic?

The value of authenticity has never been talked about more in leadership circles.

The challenge can become in defining exactly what authentic leadership really means. In too many circles, authenticity has come to be defined as, “Telling everyone everything always.”

But, as the examples above demonstrate, that is simply not always appropriate.

A much better definition of authentic leadership,

Giving the right information at the right time to the right people.

Let’s break that down into three simple steps

Giving the right information…

Information certainly involves facts and figures. It includes sales trends, projections and quarterly results.

But it also includes “soft data”, such as feelings, hopes, dreams and disappointments.

And authentic leadership involves managing personal communication in all of these arenas.

At the right time…

It is always appropriate for a leader to inform the board of directors that the organization is off plan.and behind budget. But sitting on the information for six weeks and then informing the board when it’s too late to take action is not.

Authentic leadership involves coming forth with relevant information at the right time.

To the right people…

Every leader has multiple circles of influence, each defined by levels of intimacy, familiarity, or responsibility.

What I share with my wife is different than what I will share with my kids.

What I share with the leadership team is different than what I will share with part-time contracted staff.

Authentic leadership involves the wisdom and discernment to know what information is appropriate to be shared with each of these levels of influence.

Again, the emphasis on authenticity in today’s leadership culture is a welcome and refreshing trend that is breathing new life into the culture of thriving teams.

But in the rush to seize this value, don’t make the mistake of believing that it requires unfiltered communication of every fact or feeling to everyone who crosses your path.

Bring a healthy dose of discernment into every authentic conversation.

It can start by giving the right information, at the right time, to the right people.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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