Authenticity in leadership

authenticityI’m almost ready to move on to the next blank in my diagram, but there’s one more thing I want to say about vision. As you may remember, the tag line of my business as The Practical Leader is to

Extend YOUR Reach

Multiply YOUR Effectiveness

Divide YOUR work

There is a reason why I use the pronoun YOUR. It is there as part of a broad and comprehensive package to make you the leader, you the manager, you the individual emphatic about the direction and purpose of your life.

You are what you are

There is no dichotomy between home and job. One’s integrity is the SUM of all incremental and individual parts. Each piece, either here on the job or out there at home are part and parcel of the same package. The post I wrote called A Cardboard Elvis addresses the subject more thoroughly than I will take the space to do here.

If you expect others to embrace and internalize the vision, you must do so as well.

In this sense you take on the role of a prophet, non-religious. The internalization of vision means you’ve made it your own. Because all the elements of effective leadership and management are so connected to a person’s character and integrity, it is absolutely critical that you, as leader and/or manager, are able to completely and totally embrace the vision of your company or department as if it were your own. Now, if you run your own company, the exercise of formulating vision is somewhat less complicated because all others are eliminated.

But most people work for someone else. I’ve hammered on this so many times because it is so critical to your success as an effective leader.

There can be NO CONFLICT between you, your values, your nature, your principles, and your personal purpose of life and those values, nature, principles and purpose of the company you work for. Remember, you are what you are. If the company or organization you work for violates your personal values, principles, and purposes, and you continue to work for them, there will inevitably be compromise somewhere and I mean that in the worst possible sense.

In the post I wrote a few days ago called Evaluating the vision for yourself, I emphasized that the company’s vision may be completely upright and noble. The challenge is if you can embrace and internalize it for yourself. If not, then everything else I have to say about how to mobilize people to reach the vision, to extend your reach, multiply your effectiveness, and divide your work will ring hollow and leave you feeling unfulfilled.

So before we can or should pursue the techniques of mobilizing the people we work with in pursuit of the vision, this important element must be settled.

The element of authenticity is the basis of all legitimate leadership. I am not evaluating whether some leaders have pursued evil or wacko things here. Obviously they have. It is the principle I am focusing on. Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler were contemporaries, both of them effective leaders in their own setting. And I am convinced that both sincerely believed in the causes they stood for, the vision they pursued. One did so for liberty and freedom, the other for evil and enslavement. I admire Churchill, he was a great leader. I abhor Hitler but he was a very effective leader. It is the principle of authenticity that is paramount in our setting.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust. Lance Secretan

Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked. Peter Gruber

The ‘ring of truth’ does more to convince associates they should follow you than just about anything else. So much of the leader’s toolbox is in intangible skills; the powers of persuasion, conflict management, and motivation are not things you can buy in the tool department of any institution. Genuine leaders are incredibly rare and unbelievable accomplished. But there is a deeper, more personal reason I am emphasizing this today.

So why am I focusing on this? Because I want you, yes you the person reading this article right now, I want you to be successful, happy, and fulfilled. I want you to be able to look back in the last days of your life on a life lived without compromise of integrity, without duplicity of purpose, and without regret of effort.

Promise me you’ll do everything in your power to be a leader and manager whose authenticity typifies everything you do, influences every person you meet, and every word you speak, and every action you lend your reputation to.

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