My Pi-Spective on Authenticity

Leadership Authenticity

(A pi-spective is where you write about something in 314 words)

There's a lot of this word 'authenticity' going around in leadership circles at the moment. In management if something is worth doing, then someone will overdo it. There's an influential school of leadership thinking that promotes the power of positive thinking.

I'm into that. Being intentional is important. It's at the heart of what I write about on my blog. But there can be something a bit disingenuous about the 'if you believe it, so it shall be' movement. I think its leaves the door wide open to pop psychology.

The root of the word involves 'acting on one's own authority'. It's an adjective and in the leadership domain it relates to oneself and how we conduct ourselves. There's the idea that we have an original or genuine self and we want to find and be that self in order to earn the right to lead. Which I buy.

But there's something beneath that. Acting on one's own authority also means choosing how best to act in a particular situation. The modern business environment is a liminal state. Liminality is a stage of ambiguity and disorientation that precedes a new way of thinking. That means to be an effective leader means adapting to emergent situations before seeking to impose our will.

Because we take on different roles with different people at different times, we have multiple selves. Acting on one's own authority in this context means choosing which of those selves we apply to a situation. It's about deciding who we should be to bring the best out of people in a given time and place.

I can be both creative and ruthless. Both are authentic expressions of who I am. But they are either decisive or destructive depending on the circumstances. There is a choice element in play. The truly authentic self is the one who makes the decision of who to be.