Authentic Leadership in a Filtered World
Filters and social media don't need authenticity, but leadership does! In the age of a heavily digital world where filters fix just about everything, the question is s authentic leadership a thing of the past? While inauthentic leadership is the norm in some businesses, as leaders in the modern world, we simply cannot sink that low! Authenticity is a must!
The Authenticity Problem
The problem is that our world has become so well adjusted to taking what we see on social media as truth, and while it may be part of the truth, it is never the whole truth. Do companies post on their stories when the biggest crisis of their business life is happening? Do leaders openly share their financial struggles? No, and hear me out, I’m not asking you to share that with the entire world either! But there is a level of authenticity in leadership that these days is missing!
A boss who is happy to talk to the cleaner and the accountants. A CEO who listens to their employees and takes their input on board. A leader who gets amongst the mess and the struggle and says “I get it! I understand!” A level of authenticity that breaks the barrier of fear that many employees feel towards their leaders and CEOs. Leaders who know their weaknesses and downfalls and are not afraid to apologise when they acted out of them. Someone whose personality and conduct are consistent, behind closed doors and in front of 1000 people. These are the leaders that our companies need, and unfortunately, these leaders are all too rare.
There are plenty of examples of leaders who hide behind facades, their social status, their position, and their titles, so we don’t need to delve into that. The question is, who is a good example of authentic leadership? Do you have someone in your world who carries the values of an authentic leader? As a leader, is there someone you look towards as a great example? There are great examples if you look for them!
Why the Authenticity Shortage?
The easy answer would be to say technological advancements and social media, but there are much deeper reasons for this authenticity shortage. Let’s start with overconfidence! There is interesting research from the Berkley HAAS School around social status and overconfidence. They found that social status itself increases the risk of developing overconfidence. That is a very interesting piece of information, because whether we like to admit it or not, feeling like a someone makes us feel good!
Don’t misunderstand; Confidence is essential for a leader, but there is a line. When we cross that line, we move from believing in ourselves and feeling sure about our actions, to fuelling that belief so deeply that we end up overlooking the fact that we can be wrong too! Another reason for the shortage is a lack of understanding about self-leadership. To be an effective leader requires one to know themselves and understand how they relate, communicate, and what beliefs, values, and expectations one has. It is the ability to introspect and be okay with what we find inside, that is rare!
Proactive leaders influence the future! Authentic leaders look to the future to understand what to do in the now, and some leaders aren’t capable of this. Purpose-driven leadership thrives and drives companies into success, and without clear direction as a leader, we will continue to have an authentic leader shortage. The good news is that we, as leaders in modern-day business, have a position to set the standard, to be an example of what it means to lead authentically and with purpose. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Radical Transparency & Authenticity
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I’m passionate about radical transparency and its revolutionary characteristics in the workplace! I understand that when some people read about radical transparency, they can be put off, and that is fair. However, the best step in the direction of radical transparency is growing leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up and be authentic.
Companies that don’t have authentic leadership simply cannot implement radical transparency, because the heart of radical transparency is authenticity. They work together, they are inextricably linked…good luck separating them! A culture of authenticity is a culture of productivity, purpose, satisfaction, success, and respect. All of these aspects are must-haves in any business, in my book!
Being inauthentic is hard! Keeping up with different personas, facades, and protective mechanisms is hard! Inauthentic leaders are less productive, more prone to burnout and have very low work satisfaction. Leadership, in any form and on any level, is an honour. Why would you want to spend your time in leadership feeling more burnt out and dissatisfied than ever? Work towards authenticity, your business, employees, and success will thank you for it!
This is Our Chance
This is our chance, as leaders, to show modern business in a filtered world, what it is like to be an authentic leader! Ditch the filters and the facades. Work on self-leadership and discover how you communicate, what you believe, and how you relate. Remain confident but beware of the slippery slope into overconfidence. Our world is craving authenticity, are we ready to fulfil it?
Hey! You’re Biased! – #14 Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Talking about social media, here’s one I’m sure we’ve all felt…FOMO! This is the fear we get when we feel that others are living a better life, having more fun, doing better things than us and that we are missing out. The preoccupation with FOMO has been studied and it has shown that FOMO leads to lower levels of satisfaction and increases one’s feeling that they need to check social media more. This is a brutal fear in the modern world, but don’t forget: social media is a highlight reel, only a small part of the picture is shown, and there is a messy and very human life outside of the feed on social media!
O’Brien, D., Main, A., Kounkel, S., & Stephan, A. (n.d.). Purpose is everything: How brands that authentically lead with purpose are changing the nature of business. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/marketing-and-sales-operations/global-marketing-trends/2020/purpose-driven-companies.html
Centre for Creative Leadership. (n.d.). Authentic Leadership: What it is and why it matters. Centre for Creative Leadership. https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/authenticity-1-idea-3-facts-5-tips/
Tapi, C. (2020). 9 Reasons why authentic leaders are rare. The Human Capital Hub. https://www.thehumancapitalhub.com/articles/9-Reasons-Why-Authentic-Leader-Are-Rare