Thuy Sindell, Ph.D. and Milo Sindell, M.S.

The End of Work As You Know It

Real Leaders Don’t Say They Are Authentic—They Are Authentic

Separating the fluff from facts of authentic leadership.

Posted Jan 21, 2014

It seems like one cannot perform a Google search on the topic of “leadership” without the term “authenticity” popping up. Why is this so? Isn’t authenticity a principle that anyone with clear conviction and focus intuitively operates from? 

Authenticity in the context of leadership should be invisible. As a leader you should behave in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs. I believe that authenticity is innate to who one is as a leader—it just is and as a leader you just are.

Perhaps the most important element concerning authenticity as a leader is understanding the traits and values that are important to you and manifesting these consistently. To provide a bit of structure and guidance on honing your authenticity, we provide the following.

The rules of leading with authenticity:

  1. Know yourself. Authenticity begins and ends with having an understanding of who you are, how you want to be perceived, as well as what you aspire to be (understanding what is the best you want to be allows you to manifest your ideal authentic behaviors).

Get a better idea of who you are and who you want to be. Get feedback, ask yourself some fundamental questions, identify role models, other leaders whom you admire, and the specific traits that these individuals embody.

  1. Be yourself (but don’t be a jerk). Being authentic is not a license to oppress others, be obnoxious, and make the lives of others worse because you are being who you are.
  2. Don’t say that you are being authentic. Couching your communication and actions in saying that you are coming from a place of authenticity is as bad as saying, “Can I be honest with you?”
  3. Don’t force your brand of authenticity on others. Your authentic traits may not be those of the people around you.
  4. Behave consistently. Deeds, not words, best show your authenticity.

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