Authenticity is an over-rated leadership attribute
First a confession: I have not read the leadership literature on this subject. I will, but first I have to vent: authenticity is not the attribute I seek most in a leader.
My own first reaction to the word authentic was this: I want to follow leaders who are committed to the organization’s best interests ahead of their own, i.e. I am not prepared to assume that these two things (organization’s best interests and the leader’s authentic interests) are necessarily aligned. Specifically, WIIFM must come second to WIIFO (what’s in it for the organization).
“Authentic leadership” presumes that the leader is a somewhat “perfect” person, that his or her passion and agenda is almost perfectly aligned with the organization’s strategy, and that, by radiating this combination, employers and other stakeholders will be inspired and engaged.
I would hope that all of us aspire to this. It is honorable. However, reality tends to be a messier place and I am a pragmatist. While we aspire to those noble goals, let’s not lose sight of the bar.
I realize that my own worldview is predicated on the larger assumption that when our organizations prosper, then our economies prosper, our communities prosper, and we all benefit. This comes down to the ability and willingness of those individuals who lead to commit to the higher bar of best interests of the organization.
I would rather that leaders commit to WIIFO first. If they can rally their authentic self to that, all the better, but it is secondary.
Do you see it differently?
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