Authenticity & Leadership

A long client meeting left me thinking about Authenticity & Meeting Expectations.

Authenticity is something that comes up every time I have a discussion on leadership with clients. Whilst they agree that authenticity is very important and something that they look for in every employee, most feel it is difficult to practice as a leader. They feel it comes in the way of meeting expectations.

The marriage between authenticity & meeting expectations is a difficult one. Whilst most people say they want honesty, not everyone can accept it, the expectation generally being ‘you will not hurt me’. This is surely true of personal relationships and not very different in professional relationships too. How many times has a person asked you for honest, no sorry, ‘constructive’ feedback and then become upset because they saw it as criticism?

It almost feels like the feedback ought to be ‘constructed’ not ‘constructive’.

During the beginning of an economising exercise, I know of a senior leader who took the easy way out by assuring his team loud and clear in a meeting that the layoffs would not affect them at all. In three months the entire team, excluding a few were asked to go. Do you think anyone trusted him after that? How do you think he rated on credibility?

Yes, tough times call for tough decisions but in my experience they can ride well only with candour and genuineness. And, If one can’t say it ‘like it is’ as in the economising example, maybe it is best that one remains silent rather than spout falsehoods?