In today’s day and age, authenticity is a crucial piece of the leadership puzzle. People don’t want fake, inauthentic leaders. They want someone they feel they can relate to because the person they’re following is real.
Sadly, too many leaders in the public arena aren’t authentic. They only claim to be.
Honestly, I’ve struggled with this as I’ve watched bloggers and leaders alike fall from their high horses. These leaders claimed to hold their marriage in high esteem. News breaks that they had an affair or abused their spouse. Some leaders say they value their faith. Only to have their actions betray their words.
These leaders all claimed to be authentic. None of them were. They put on a front they knew would sell books, garner an audience, and make them money.
This has made my journey difficult as I continue to write. I struggle with the idea of so many leaders falling. I wonder if I might become one of those leaders we’ve all read about.
I don’t want to be that leader. You don’t want to be that leader.
So, what can we do to be authentic?
What Is Authenticity?
Before going any further, we must understand what being authentic means. It’s not saying one thing and doing another. It’s not looking out for yourself above everything else.
Being authentic means that you’re living your life according to the way you talk, teach, and lead. This means what you say is what you do. How you act is who you are.
The public-facing persona you put out, that is who you are.
The Benefits of Authenticity
What are the benefits of being authentic? They are many!
The first is that by being authentic, you don’t have to worry about pretending to be something you’re not. You have decided who you are, you do what you say you will, and your word is your bond.
There is no pretending!
It makes life so much easier when you don’t have to think about the actions you’re going to take. You know those actions are going to line up with what you believe and what you’ve shared.
The next benefit of being authentic is that people know they can trust you. This is a big one for leaders.
Your team members will hear your words. Instead of thinking about whether or not you will follow through, whether the words are true, or if there’s some hidden agenda, your team will trust what you say.
The last benefit I want to touch on today is that authentic leaders have better relationships. Because of your integrity, honesty, and care for others, your relationships flourish. Those you interact with regularly trust you and your word. Every interaction you have with vendors, customers, employees, and more will thrive.
Obstacles To Authenticity
Authenticity doesn’t come easy. You will face obstacles to being authentic.
I’ve seen many leaders fall because of the temptations and obstacles that come their way. You will be tempted to tell a white lie here or there so that you look better. You might be tempted to cheat on your taxes so you have a little extra money at the start of the year. Or you may feel social pressure to conform to those around you. It’s challenging to feel like you’re different because you’re unwilling to do what everyone else is doing.
Stand firm in knowing that you want to be authentic. That you want to live a life worth following.
Don’t give in to the peer pressure, the desire to look successful, or the chaos around you.
Think about the obstacles you’re facing as you desire to be an authentic leader. What are they? How can you overcome them? What do you need to address?
Building and Maintaining Authenticity
You will have to work on your authenticity, especially if you’ve failed to be authentic. It happens; we know that. You can make a comeback, and you can build and maintain your personal authenticity.
Here are three things you can do to build and maintain authenticity:
1. Set boundaries:
Boundaries are crucial to being authentic. Without boundaries, you will be pulled in multiple directions. Dr. Henry Cloud, the author of Boundaries, says, “A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins.”
Without boundaries, we can lose ourselves. We can step away from what we believe and desire to be and become what others want us to be.
2. Find honest friends:
We have multiple different friend groups. Some friends make us feel better about the bad decisions we make. Then, when we think about it, are they really friends?
The best friends we can find are friends that are honest. They hold us accountable, they call us out on our crap, and they are there to help us stand back up after we fall.
Find friends that will do this for you.
3. Take responsibility for your actions:
When you fail, and you will, take responsibility for your actions. Don’t pass the buck to Tom in accounting, your spouse at home, or a friend. These people are important parts of your life, but they are not responsible for your actions.
Let those impacted by your actions know that you’re taking responsibility. Let them see you putting together an action plan, cleaning up your act, and making things right.
The more you take responsibility for your actions, the more authentic you will be.
Authenticity Is Important
You know how important it is to be authentic in everything you do. That’s why you’re going to take action today. You’re going to find friends who keep you accountable. You’re going to set boundaries. And you’re going to take responsibility for what you do.
In doing so, you will be someone people know, like, and trust. The people around you are going to see you as authentic. As you can see, authenticity in leadership and life is important.
This is the way.