Authenticity, in its purest sense, is the capability of remaining true to yourself and to your values. Along with integrity, which I wrote about previously, it is one of the keys for successful leadership.
As Dr. Lance Secretan teaches:
“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust”.
Easier said than done in a world full of stimulus, temptations, where even the most truthful individuals easily get sucked into a vortex losing both their authenticity and direction. How do you know for sure that you have not lost your authenticity?
Signs of authenticity robbery (appeals both to personal behavior and behavior towards other individuals):
– Not seeing the wood for the trees
– No real purpose or direction
– Low self-worth, resulting in merely being a people-pleaser or some other form of emotional drainage in one self and in behavior towards other individuals
– Lack of creativity, copying other people´s work, and taking credit for someone else’s work
– Too high expectations upon oneself, and other people
– Fearful behavior resulting e.g. in loss of personal power and being incapable of confronting other individuals truthfully (hiding oneself, poor communication, no capability of taking/giving constructive criticism, avoiding conflicts etc.).
Being authentic is equal to being real, truthful, and having the capability to admit humanity, weaknesses, and vulnerability. Every great leader throughout history, and contemporary, has become truly successful through their capability of being authentic both towards themselves and towards others. Face the fact – you have to be authentic with yourself before having the courage to express authenticity towards other individuals. Even great artists have found their success through authenticity, including actors who master the skill to penetrate in to and to live the role of their character – without losing themselves in the process. Authenticity is also an essential ingredient in brand creation, be it that you are creating a brand out of yourself, or if branding a product.
Ways of strengthening authenticity:
- Learn to master your mind. I always emphasize this, and not without reason. Quoting Remez Sasson: “Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave”. Mastering one´s own mind requires continuous work, throughout life. If you do not master your own mind, someone else will.
All following points are part of the art of mastering one´s mind:
- Practice consciousness, daily.
- Focus on living in the present.
- Increase simplicity in your life.
- Be willing to let go, and to let energy flow freely.
- Learn to say no, but also to take no for an answer.
- Do not take anything personally.
- Be prepared for an inward journey. Authenticity is within you.
- Accept that you cannot change things forcefully, but rather through patience and diplomacy.
- Always be open to learning from others, express gratitude, respect, and be thankful for all lessons coming your way.
- Do not copy other people´s/organization´s work. Create your own. But if you still do use other people´s work, remember to refer to them/credit the individual/organization.
- Have respect for people, starting with having respect for you. You are here for a reason.
- Learn how to overcome your fears and transform them into positive energy.
- Be yourself since everyone else is already taken (Oscar Wilde).
“At the end of the day, it is not about what you have or even what you have accomplished. It is about what you have done with those accomplishments. It is about who you have lifted up, and who you have empowered. It is about what you have given back.”
Short video about authenticity:
Suggested further reading:
George, B. True North. Discover your Authentic Leadership. 2007.
George, B. Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. 2011.
Johnson, C.E. Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach. 2011.