Authenticity and Effective Leadership

I hope this finds you enjoying the holiday season and time with friends and family.

One of the most important characteristics of an effective leader is authenticity. Webster defines authenticity as “true to one's own personality, spirit, or character.” Good leaders understand that there is power in staying true to themselves.

Authenticity does not mean that we operate in a manner not aligned with laws, rules, guidelines or process, it simply means that we do so from the place of integrity.

Effective leaders do not operate under the pretense that they are anything other than who they are. This of course starts with knowing in a very real sense who you are.

Time and again I engage in conversations with people who describe who they are by what they do. It is a powerful and enlightening exercise to ask yourself the “who am I” question and see what answer or answers surface. Do your answers describe what you do? If so, are you what you do?

Authenticity is about knowing who you are and, with that, aligning what you do. Sounds so simple yet most people do not live this way. Often times people are attempting to be who they think the boss, spouse, child, co worker or ?  (fill in the blank) thinks they should be.

We are taught from a young age that “fitting in” derives many benefits. Yet, if not balanced with authenticity, the practice of fitting in can cause us much harm.

If you study great leaders, you will come to understand that “fitting in” was not the driving force behind their actions and values. It can be frightening to stand apart from the crowd and blaze your own trail yet this is the path of a true leader.

Spend some time this week uncovering opportunities where you can be more “authentic” in your activities and relationships.

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