Authenticity – what if the real me is a Jerk?!

”What if your real self is a jerk?”  

Writing in the Huffington Post, Bill George the author of Authentic leadership in 2003, paraphrases another author.  He was observing that the term ‘Authentic Leadership’ has more recently been re-interpreted and used as an excuse for bad behaviour; ”being locked into a rigid view of one’s leadership, being rude and insensitive, refusing to change, or not adapting one’s style to the situation.’’ 
We know, as George states, that ”People are not born as jerks, nor does this behaviour reflect their authentic selves…. by understanding themselves and reframing their experiences, they can find the pearl inside that represents their authentic selves…that’s why exploring who they are and getting honest feedback from their colleagues are essential elements of becoming authentic leaders.’’ 
This week Isaac Getz, (professor of Leadership and Innovation at ESCP Europe Business School), speaking to HR Magazine about his forthcoming book Leadership Without Ego, said “If you’re not Trump you wouldn’t be president!”  He was talking about the fact that many Leaders and CEOs get to where they are by having an ego, ie: self-belief and pushiness, however his new book highlights that ” Leaders must abandon their egos and be truly authentic to be most effective …. if a CEO wants to transform their organisation around trust they need to start with themselves.” Getz acknowledges that ”….this takes high levels of confidence for leaders to achieve…abandoning your ego is directly connected with vulnerability. You’re responsible but you give people the keys.’’

Courageous Success clients, as a result of iAM personal values, truly understand themselves at heart, and report the positive impact on their leadership as 85%.

It is as simple as knowing who we are at heart- our iAM Values – the real us – and then being that person wherever we are.  Bringing who we are outside of work, into work.
Bill George states five qualities for authentic leadership:  understanding their purpose, practicing solid values, leading with heart, establishing connected relationships and demonstrating self-discipline.   
And we would add: being self-aware, knowing your triggers and how to manage them, parking your ego and being collaborative, showing vulnerability.  
The benefits of authenticity at work, reported by HBR, is significantly higher job satisfaction and engagement, greater happiness at work, stronger sense of community, more inspiration and lower job stress.   So it works.  We gravitate to, and tend to like people who are authentic.  We all want to work for and be with people we like.   
Karen Blackett, Chair of Mediacom, named by the FT as a champion of women in business and voted by her peers as the Ad industries most admired leader, recently told Director magazine;  ”The leaders that are inspirational to me are who they are. They aren’t pretending to have all the answers. They show vulnerability as well as courage.’’

Here are some tips for bringing the real you into work:

  • Be the same person at work as at home, you’ll feel and come across as more real and natural. Be true to your values.
  • Don’t make it all about you – really connect with and engage with others – listen.
  • Don’t conform, we often think of work as having to be professional and formal. None of us have ‘professional’ written on our hearts!  Be informal and normal.
  • Don’t expect yourself or try and present yourself as perfect – no-one is, showing vulnerability and admitting mistakes shows we are human and normal.
  • Be encouraging and build self-belief in others – always see the best.
  • Be open, consistent and approachable in your communication – even in difficult situations this approach builds trust.

Park your ego for good and be the real you!

From Courageous Success Growth Inspiration