Authentic Leadership: Growing Pains

In the last 10 years, authenticity has been a huge buzzword in the business press. Professionals who are good at their core job, are more often than not struggling in roles they get after they are promoted, as the same skills that made them successful are not enough.

These transition positions require us to leave our established identity and move towards new skills, often at the cost of a complete personality overhaul. This identity crisis while shifting towards a new role feels inauthentic.

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Yes, good leaders are authentic leaders — but here’s what that actually means

ideas.ted.com

  • The word ‘sincere’ comes from ancient Rome where merchants selling statues would often hide the cracks and flaws with wax. The ones who weren’t dishonest used to hang a sign outside their shop saying “Sine Cera”, meaning without wax.
  • The world ‘authenticity’ comes from the Greek word ‘authenteos’ which means: What is done by one’s own hands.**

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  1. Authenticity is being true to yourself: But if the ‘self’ is changing, how is one authentic to the past, present or future self at the same time?
  2. Authenticity is being sincere: It is about saying what we mean, and meaning what we say.
  3. Authenticity is being true to your values: If one has an ingrained value, one cannot sabotage it.

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A professional moving up the ladder wants to be successful and have the desired impact, but if in doing so has to sacrifice the ingrained values and integrity, one would end up being less sincere and more ‘political’.

The answer to this paradox may be on how we see our job. If we are only focused on content delivery, knowledge, ideas and research, we would not be able to do anything with ourselves. We have to focus on owning the space where we work with our presence, creating engagement and increasing learning.

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Being authentic and sincere is only possible if we grow ourselves through learning, which happens when we do things we aren’t very comfortable with.

We have to move out of the comfort zone we have created in our existing job roles and take the approach of self-authoring, by experimenting and learning things we haven’t done before.

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