Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Authenticity--Team Leaders

I read an interesting article on authenticity as it relates to leaders and leadership this week. It really got me thinking. The article by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones is Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership.

I've met a lot of leaders in my life and had the opportunity to work for some truly great leaders with whom I really connected. I had never really though about why we connected before, or why I really knew these leaders cared about me as part of their organization.

On the other hand, I have also had the opportunity to be part of organizations where it was clear the leaders didn't have it together and for whom I had no illusions that they were great leaders. They were just doing the job--and not that well.

It dawns on me that I was assessing the authenticity of their leadership.

What is authentic leadership?

Well, the Center for Authentic Leadership describes it as follows:

"The measure of a man or woman is more than the sum of one’s words or deeds. It is the impact of who we are being as we speak and act that leaves the greatest imprint on others."

Goffee and Jones stated it as simply as the following: "First, you have to ensure that your words are consistent with your deeds; otherwise, followers will not accept you as authentic."

You've probably been in the presence of leaders which make your "skin crawl" because you know that although they appear to be your best friend, you are convinced they really don't care about you and are out for whatever they can get out of you to advance their personal issues. They have a problem with authenticity. I call it something more obvious--they are flat out disingenuous.

Team leaders need authenticity. They need to be comfortable with themselves and also not be afraid to be vulnerable. Who they are deep in their very souls needs to be congruent with who they are as a leader. This does not mean leaders can't play different roles--we are all called to different roles as situations require--but the way the roles are performed needs a sense of consistency that can only come from internal congruence.

Great leaders are not poor leaders trying to be great. They are not insecure people acting out their part--they are congruent in all aspects of their life and they are comfortable with themselves and the role they are called to serve in.

Goffee and Jones kinda summed it up: "Authentic leaders remain focused on where they are going but never lose sight of where they came from."

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