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Values to lead by - Authenticity

Every day we get up and live our life in the way we live it. Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but underpinning the way you live your life, and the way you lead others, are the core values that you live your life by. Values that you have learnt from family and friends and from life experience. There are many values you can pick from, but I want to propose over the next 5 weeks, 5 core values that should be at our core as leaders. For each one I will unpick 5 reasons for each value.

Every brand has a reputation, something is stands for. Certain brands are known for high quality, for example Rolls Royce or Rolex. I’ve never owned either of them, but imagine buying a Rolex, expecting the quality it stands for and finding out you have bought a fake. Being the real deal, authentic is important to us. Human beings are hard wired to spot inauthenticity and we don’t like it. It unsettles us and we don’t feel safe, especially when it is our leaders. So, the first value to lead by is that of ‘Authenticity’.


Authenticity makes us attractive. Now, I don’t mean physically attractive. But people want to spend time with us when they know that we are real and honest.


Think of those you connect with, have a friendship with. It’s because you get to know them, find the points of connection. When we are authentic leaders, we allow people to get to know us. We listen to them and understand their life and their pressures. We remember, not because it is a way of getting people to follow you, but because we want to be authentically connected to them. When we have the value of authenticity, sharing our vision is not about a target or a mission. It is about sitting alongside people and talking about you, your journey, passionately and honestly talking about the hope we have for the organisation and the people in it. We find connection with their hope and purpose too.


Authentic leaders admit their errors. When you hear a leader say, “I didn’t get that right,” it signals to us that when things go wrong this leader will own up to their part and won’t scapegoat others. This enables others to feel safe knowing you won’t avoid responsibility and shame them for their mistakes. If you have ever experienced a scapegoating leader, it not only makes the person who has been scapegoated feel unsafe but those around them feel unsafe, knowing it could be them next.

Culture of Authenticity

As leaders of authenticity, when we say how we got something wrong or have struggled to understand something we create a ‘vulnerability loop’ that means others can feel safe to be vulnerable too. In turn, when we create safety, it enables others to also be authentic. Authenticity breeds authenticity. This means mistakes can be owned, rectified and it creates a culture of responsibility and improvement.


Because we and others are now authentic, it allows us all to be open enough to say, ‘I don’t know it all’ and therefore we can learn. When we learn, we get better at something.

We can look at examples of political or business leaders and see a lack of authenticity, that impacts on those that they lead. We can’t change their behaviour but we can ensure our own behaviour. When the value of authenticity drives us, we ensure that those we lead feel safe and learn and grow. Sounds like a good value to lead by to me!

Everyday Leader has authenticity as one of its core values. We run training and coaching to help leaders lead with authenticity. Do contact us if you would like our help.


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