In my opinion, the word ‘authenticity’ may be perhaps the most overused word in the 21st century. As a leader and manager, I wonder what that word really means.
- Does it mean: “Tell me everything you know, so I’ll know what you know and I won’t be caught by surprise?”
- Does it mean: “I want you to demonstrate every emotion you have so I know exactly how you feel”?
- Does it mean: “I want you to be true to your values and convictions”?
- Does it mean: “I want to know your real motives, because I don’t trust anyone”?
- Could it be a combination of the above?
Maybe it’s a Millennials’ way of saying something a hippie would have said in the 60’s like: “Be real man.”
Authenticity is not a new word – sorry, but it is not the discovery of Millennials. Authentic leaders have been around for a long time, but they may manifest different behaviors than expected by those who are insecure and want to know every detail, every motive, every intent, every strategy.
Raw, unfiltered data benefits no one. Emotional outbursts do not indicate authenticity.
In other words, authentic leaders do not need to download every last bit of drivel that arises in their gray matter.
Maybe there’s something more happening that requires patience on the part of followers.
- Authentic leaders may be acting on deeper values of restraint and respect when they don’t respond in anger or frustration and demonstrate a calm demeanor. A reserved manner can be an authentic demonstration of care and concern for people.
- Authentic leaders may be slow to respond because they are considering options and weighing things in a thoughtful manner. That does not mean they’re hiding something.
- Authentic leaders may be considering more than the needs of one person in the room when they respond to someone, and thereby reserve commentary for a later time.
- Finally, authentic leaders may be thinking deep into the future when they respond, and not give an impression of immediacy longed for by those who want immediate gratification.
At the risk of social heresy, I’m convinced the pressure from followers for leaders to constantly demonstrate ‘authenticity’ seems to be a veiled desire to have more information to achieve self-determination, and if that’s the case, authenticity may become the least authentic motive of all.
Leadership Integrity is the key to authentic authenticity.
It is the integrity of the leader that is really at issue here. Authenticity is more about how leaders conduct themselves every day. We don’t need to reveal everything, but that doesn’t mean we’re hiding something. It means we’re not quite ready to give out information that may do more harm than good. Now that’s an authentic way to live – don’t you think?
About Guest Blogger Dr. Jim Bohn,
Author of Authentic “Authenticity”
Dr. Jim Bohn is “The Blue-Collar Scholar”. Raised by a factory-working father and armed with a PhD, Dr. Bohn puts theory that works on the table and invites you to roll up your sleeves and go to work! He has organizational expertise and insight from decades of successfully leading leaders and business savvy derived from observing and evaluating the organizational behavior of multiple Fortune 500 organizations. Jim’s rare alloy of practice & theory is hard to find in today’s market, making him a much-appreciated advisor.
I want to share the experience and wisdom I have gained throughout the past four decades with businesses in the Southeast Wisconsin area. I earned my doctorate through 10 years of night school — a lesson in persistence! Having worked with hundreds of leaders and having led teams myself, I have gained a deep knowledge of effective leadership.
DR. JIM BOHN’S CONTACT INFORMATION:
Interested in more plain talk from the Blue Collar Scholar? Read his books, including “The Nuts and Bolts of Leadership”. http://amzn.to/2rf90H3