More and more, I see the term “Authentic Leadership” becoming a tag line for companies that want to demonstrate, truthfully or not, that their leaders are somehow doing things differently, better, than other companies’ leaders.
Programs are being created around authenticity and mindfulness with the hope that dysfunctional organizational dynamics will dissipate and change course; people will start acting more authentic, more mindful, and supportive of a new culture. But as we know, just because we say it’s happening doesn’t mean it’s actually happening.
The fact is this is really, really hard to do because the culture of a company, developed over decades of time became the status quo. I’ve seen companies talk about authenticity and maintain the same actions. I’ve seen employees try to be more genuine and authentic, only to be met with negative responses. I’ve seen leaders think they got where they are by doing one thing and they’ll be damned if they do something different now.
So, although our Human Resources groups see the trend or the need, they are not designed to manage or monitor how these programs play out. Although our companies give the “OK” for employees to communicate with authenticity, HR doesn’t always want to hear what will bubble up from stew. Stirring things up can cause chaos, and without follow through, there is no plan.
Finding authenticity in your life is a beautiful thing! You’ll know it when you see it because you’ll FEEL it. You’ll experience a brief window of openness that feels like a warm welcoming breeze. Eye contact will made, a smile will be exchanged, genuine encouragement will be in flow.
As I mentioned last week, the way we do one thing is the way we do everything. If connection and authenticity is included consistently in what we do at work, it becomes the magic bullet that pushes our companies ahead of their competition – happily.
Maybe it’s because organizations wish so badly that their leaders would “get real” that they think defining them as authentic will make it so. Or maybe it’s just been my experience but if we don’t Walk the Talk, straight and narrow, it will never change.
Sometimes it may feel like jumping into a vast ocean of possibilities, too much to handle, so we pull back and choose we’d rather not. Many of us will choose not to jump in, not to change, not to try the words and actions that could bring us the greatest joy every single day. Weird, huh? We choose to hide. I wonder how long that will serve us?
It’s an Inside-Out job!!