3 Pitfalls of Authenticity

authenticityI have noticed a trend in leadership circles.  It’s the trend of Authentic Leadership.  The idea that leaders and their teams are connecting with who they really are.  No more:

  • politics
  • fake smiles
  • tolerance for the sake of feelings
  • saying anything in order to get past a conflict or hurdle.

Being authentic basically means:

  • true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character

Sounds good, “be real…don’t be fake…be honest…don’t sugar coat it…”

We say things like:

“We just want to be authentic…“I’m going to be authentic in my leadership…We are going to be authentic in our team.”

In other words, we want to get down to who we are, we don’t hide any thing.

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5 Signs of an Authentic Leader

Yet lately I’ve noticed some unintended byproducts of I call Self-Centered Authenticity.  Some pitfalls if we only work at being authentic.

Sacrifice Excellence-Leads to Laziness

  • “This is just who I am. I am being my authentic self”
  • “I’m inconsiderate, inflexible, boring, overly optimistic/fantasy, scatterbrained…”
  • “That’s the way I am made and you just have to deal with it.”
  • “I’m not going to change for you or then I wouldn’t be my authentic self.”

Changing for the good of the team and self is difficult.  The outcome of self-centered authenticity is simply laziness in the leader.

Sacrifice Compassion-Leads to Rudeness

  • “Let me be authentic here…I don’t like you.”
  • “You are not what this organization needs”
  • It’s all about the organization, or about the leader.
  • Self-Authentic Leaders make decisions based on their past, personal preference, and personal benefit and not the benefit of the team, organization, or the individual.

That all may be true and needs to be communicated but not to sacrifice compassion.  There can be trauma with too much transparency.  Self-Authentic leaders speak the truth but not in love, care, compassion or other-mindedness.

Sacrifice Quality-Leads to Low Standard

  • “I’m late…that’s just who I am”
  • “I’m unorganized…that’s how I do things”
  • “I’m not a good communicator…talk to me on my terms.”

Being Authentic does not mean you sacrifice Excellence, Compassion, or Quality.  Being authentic means you face your weaknesses first (not the weakness of others), realize your struggles, and compensate for your gaps.  Be honest with yourself and others and vow to up the excellence, compassion, and quality of your work and life.

Once you begin to lead from an authentic place you will build trust to guide others to lead and live authentically.  When you are known as truly authentic in your leadership the #1 sign is trust.  People trust someone who is authentic and will tell it like it is so all will excel in excellence, compassion, and quality.

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How do you exhibit authenticity in your leadership?  Leave a comment below