Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Authentic Authenticity

In my opinion, the word 'authenticity' is perhaps the most overused word in the 21st century.  As a leader and manager, I wonder what that word really means.

Does it mean: "Tell me everything you know, so I'll know what you know and I won't be caught by surprise?"

Does it mean: "I want you to demonstrate every emotion you have so I know exactly how you feel"?

Does it mean: "I want you to be true to your values and convictions"?

Does it mean: "I want to know your real motives, because I don't trust anyone"?

Could it be a combination of the above?

Maybe it's a Millennials' way of saying something a hippie would have said in the 60's like "be real man."

Authenticity is not a new word - sorry, but it is not the discovery of Millennials.  Authentic leaders have been around for a long time, but they may manifest different behaviors than expected by those who are insecure and want to know every detail, every motive, every intent, every strategy.

Authentic leaders do not need to download every last bit of drivel that arises in their gray matter.
Raw, unfiltered data benefits no one.  Emotional outbursts do not indicate authenticity.

Authentic leaders may be acting on deeper values of restraint and respect when they don't respond in anger or frustration and demonstrate a calm demeanor.   A reserved manner can be an authentic demonstration of care and concern for people.

Authentic leaders may be slow to respond because they are considering options and weighing things in a thoughtful manner.  That does not mean they're hiding something.

Authentic leaders may be considering more than the needs of one person in the room when they respond to someone, and thereby reserve commentary for a later time.

Finally, authentic leaders may be thinking deep into the future when they respond, and not give an impression of immediacy longed for by those who want immediate gratification.

At the risk of social heresy, I'm convinced the pressure from followers for leaders to constantly demonstrate 'authenticity' is a veiled desire to have more information to achieve self-determination, and if that's the case, authenticity may the least authentic motive of all.