For leaders who feel isolated, burdened, and “lonely at the top,” authenticity may just be your new superpower.
In fact, we believe authenticity is so integral to effective leadership that is one of the five core values upon which CTLF’s HEART-level approach is based. Why is authenticity such a powerful quality?
Inauthentic people often withhold their true thoughts or feelings, giving others incomplete or inaccurate information with which to operate and make decisions. When we remain silent or simply go along without revealing what we really think, we fail to provide our full value to the organization.
Know What You’re Getting
We are more apt to trust authentic people to shoot straight with us. No smoke and mirrors. No house of cards. No “fake it till you make it.” While some believe these tactics may preserve a job or achieve a short-term goal, such an approach is ultimately selfish and short-sighted. Rather than wasting time, energy, and company resources, they understand and acknowledge their limitations—not in weakness, but in the spirit of serving the greater good.
Maintaining the Illusion Is Hard Work
Being inauthentic is like wearing around a jacket that doesn’t quite fit; it’s uncomfortable and requires our attention all the time. Eventually, our real selves prevail through our tone, body language, or reactions to circumstances. Eventually, people just figure us out and waiting for that proverbial shoe to drop is exhausting.
When we operate in a manner inconsistent with our values and who we truly are, it creates dissonance and tension that must be constantly managed. Being exactly who you are removes the worry of being found out and lets us live more fully into the person we were meant to be.
Empathy and Understanding
Authentic leaders continually reinforce the fact that we are more than our titles; we are human beings. And while our hopes, dreams, struggles, quirks, and fears may differ, the fact that we are a person on the planet means we all have them. Rather glossing over or minimizing our humanity, authentic leaders build trust and relationship by being real. As The Arbinger Institute points out in their excellent book, The Anatomy of Peace, when you view people as human beings and not objects with problems, it changes how you interact with them.
Point to Ponder:
Great leaders have a strong sense of self. We understand that to know, and be known by, others is one of our deepest human needs. We appreciate the value of being authentic and genuine as a desirable leadership trait in our workplace and our own homes, and we encourage the same in others.