Written by Robert Ziegler:
“Authentic Leadership,” as a phrase, has certainly captured the interest of many professionals, myself included. We are at a place in the world and at a time in history where the inner world and actions of a leader are understood to be joined and interdependent. Both the internal and the external matter. And as individuals, most of us are not willing to sacrifice one for the other – we are no more interested in becoming martyrs to our job than we are in becoming cloistered monks or nuns.
Many years ago, when I was working and studying in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I sat next to a group of students who I quickly determined were on the Harvard MBA track. They were clearly supposed to be working together, but their way of doing that was to almost literally clamber over each other to the smartest and fastest in the group. I realized in that moment that that approach wasn’t for me.
Life since has shown me that great leaders haven’t had to turn themselves into psychological pretzels to earn a position of leadership. Some do, of course, but many don’t.
What’s more, we can generally sense when someone is being authentic or not. There is a natural chemistry between authentic leaders and the people who follow them. I would also suggest that inauthenticity is a lot of work. You’ll probably live longer being authentic. So there are some pretty good arguments for authenticity.
At the same time, being authentic is risky, and it demands care and attention. In the coming blogs, I hope to discuss more of the nuances of authentic leadership. In the meantime, please share your thoughts on what authentic leadership means or looks like to you.