top of page

5 Keys to leading in disruption - Authenticity

Safe & Secure place. Safe & Secure person.

When the rains come, where to people look for shelter?

When the storm gales hit, where do people look for shelter?

When fires rage, where to people look for shelter?

When there are uncertain times, who do people look for?

In each of these, people look for safety. They look for a place that they know will be safe and secure. A place they know will remain resolute to whatever might be thrown at it.

When it comes to leading people in uncertain or disruptive times, authentic leadership is key to providing that place of safety.

This is the second of our blog series on 5 keys for leading in disruption and uncertainty. How to lead at a time when the organisation has not been in this place before requires these 5 things

  • Visibility

  • Authenticity

  • Storyteller

  • Prioritise

  • Non-binary problem solving

Last week we looked at visibility, to see and be seen. This week, we examine the importance of authenticity.

Areas of Authenticity

Authenticity is one of the things that bring safety to others. Authentic is often used to describe when something is real; it is what it claims to be. For example, describing a Rolex watch as authentic explains it is the real item and therefore has all the brand qualities of that item. Someone buying a fake Rolex, may have the appearance of a fine watch, but its quality, its workmanship, its time keeping, its reliability then turns out not to match expectation. It then becomes a disappointment.

Authenticity as a leader has many facets, each one of them coming together to enable those they work with to see the leader as someone who can be trusted.

  • Authentic you - Honesty

  • Authentic values - Morality

  • Authentic relationships – Dependability

  • Authentic understanding - Empathy

  • Authentic decisions – Impartiality

  • Authentic courage - Bravery

Authentic you – Honesty

Truthfulness generates trust. This starts with a truthfulness about ourselves. If we pretend to know it all, be all confident and yet those around us can see that we are not, they will find it hard to follow us. They will say to themselves, ‘if they can’t even be honest about themselves, how can I trust them when the chips are down?’ So, as leaders we need to be able to say, ‘I’m not sure’ or 'this is an area I am not so strong at' or ‘I think XX may be better at this than me’. When we do that it doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us more trustworthy. Now, of course, people don’t want their leader constantly putting themselves down and listing all their weaknesses every day, but showing we are self-aware shows balance.

Authentic values – Morality

Having integrity, doing the right thing even if no-one is looking brings security. Integrity is based on core moral principles such as truthfulness and honesty. When people see you display this authentically, they know that even in tough times you will do the right thing. They will be drawn to you as they know in tough times you will do the right thing and look after them. I have worked with leaders of authentic values and I would walk with them for miles because of that. Sadly, on occasion, I have also worked with leaders whose values were not authentic, who distorted the truth and made decisions based on their own safety at the expense of others. It not only destroys trust in them but damages the reputation of leaders in that field. Authentic, lived out values is the bedrock of an authentic leader.

Authentic relationships – Dependability

I was chatting to two people recently, both of whom recounted times when so-called friends let them down. Promising friendship but when difficulties or a ‘better offer’ came along, they chose to abandon the person. Being a leader is not about being everyone’s best buddy, but it is about forming honest and trustworthy connections. Getting to know people as people and not for gain. Delivering what you promise to those you work with.

Authentic understanding - Empathy

We never know what it is like to ‘walk in someone’s shoes’ but authentic leaders take time to understand others’ journey. When we do this in order to support and care and walk alongside them without the glib answers and solutions, we build connection and trust.

Authentic decisions – Impartiality

As we scan the pages of the news these days, we often see reports of leaders in politics and business making decisions based on personal gain. Nothing is more repulsive to those who follow. It creates a sense of dissonance, unrest as the person they followed is not as trustworthy as they thought. Authentic leaders weigh up possible courses of action, review it fairly and wisely and make decisions not based on personal gain. They are happy to talk about the decision making process because it is robust. People are ok with the decision not going their way, because they know the leader will have listened to opinion and weighed it up.

Authentic courage - Bravery

Leadership often comes with tough decisions, but authentic leaders make those decisions based on fortitude, the courage to do the right thing. Authentic courage is based on the right thing for others, for the organisation rather than for themselves. Authentic courage involves vulnerability. As Brene Brown describes it, “Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.”

Crafting Authenticity

Authenticity, is not something to switch on when uncertain times come. It is fashioned over time. It is like a muscle and each time we are authentic in one of the areas above, we strengthen that muscle. To be leaders that people feel safe with in uncertain times, we need to be leaders that people feel safe with in certain times. That comes from being authentic. Self-aware and honest about themselves and with a character fashioned on strong values. Someone who takes time to know their team and is dependable in relationships. Someone who makes fair decisions for the good of others and not for personal gain and who will make courageous decisions. Someone who practises the art of authenticity on an Everyday basis.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page