Your power as a leader, in sales, as a speaker, an author, or as a human being, comes from the power you allow yourself to have in your authenticity.
It’s popular to throw around the words “authenticity” and “leadership” these days. As if they are items on a to-do list that can be checked off like “check e-mail” and “mow the lawn”.
Authentic leadership isn’t a task. It’s not a to-do. It’s not something that you can check off a list. Being authentic is a place of being who you were designed to be. In that is real power and remarkable leadership.
I know what you might be thinking to yourself:
“That’s great, but, I have a real company to run, with real employees, who have real problems and need real solutions. I don’t have time for any self-help mumbo jumbo “work-on-myself-and-meditate” blah blah blah.
I get that. I really do. But I can not overstate how powerful authentic leaders are to their organizations.
Authenticity allows you to disconnect your work from your worth. It allows you to take bigger and better risks, to have a greater and better tolerance for failure, and it creates a space for the people who work with and for you to discover that for themselves as well.
And what would that be like? What would it look like if your entire organization was full of confidence and determination and drive? What would it look like if your colleagues and co-workers were NOT looking over their shoulders all the time to protect themselves from “office politics”? What would be possible in your work, and in your life, if you lived your life and did your work from a place of absolute authenticity?
I think it would be literally and absolutely true that anything and everything you would want to accomplish in your life and your work would be possible.
So, how do you foster authenticity in your organization or company? Here are three quick and easy ideas:
- Declare that authenticity is something that you care about, as a organizational and corporate value. Teddy Roosevelt is famously credited with saying “People dont care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This is a great summation of why authenticity matters. Once you declare that authenticity is a value to you and your organization, then you need to live it out.
- Quit pretending like you have all the answers, for every problem, all the time. I recently worked with a CEO that lived by the motto: “Nothing is ever wrong. It’s just not right — right now.” Meaning, he never allowed himself, his team, his employees, or his organization to make a mistake. Instead of a mistake it was something that wasn’t right — right now. The pressure and stress that a leader like that must be feeling is overwhelming. Sometimes you make the wrong call, you screw up, you ship too late, and you miss an opportunity. Real authentic human beings do that. Authentic leaders take responsibility for their mistakes. They own them. They learn from them, and their authenticity makes them better.
- Believe in “work-life balance”. Another client I was recently talking to said she “didn’t believe in work-life balance, only work-life integration”. I call bull-shit. Attitudes like that justify working too much, justifies doing too much work at home and doing too much personal stuff at work. It means you can justify working 70-80 hours a week because, after all, you don’t “believe” in work-life balance. B.S. You don’t believe in it, because you are terrified that stepping away from work for 5 minutes means it will all come crashing down without you. Stop it. Believe for one minute that your life is worth more than productivity, products and profits.
It is possible for leaders to “have it all”, but they must be willing to give up the facade that being a leader is easy, and that their companies are always “killing it.” Because, the truth is — at our most authentic levels — we are all terrified that we don’t know what we are doing.
What would life look like if we just started admitting that to one another?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.