As humans, we want to be able to trust our leaders to operate in honesty, integrity, and authenticity. Authentic people are honest and exhibit integrity in their thoughts and actions. In an authentic environment we expect trust, relationship, and team success to flourish. However, many of us have been the victims of unauthentic leadership, and never even realized that was the problem.
If authenticity brings about a spirit of trust and integrity, then it follows that an environment led by an inauthentic leader would feel insecure, demeaning, and competitive in an unhealthy way. People, when threatened, tend to naturally defend themselves and begin to attack at any sign of instability.
Our very own Taylor Brooks recalled two specific work environments where leadership was unauthentic. During her time with these employers, she witnessed her co-workers shaming other co-workers, other members of management shaming co-workers, and employees shaming leadership.
As a result, the aire of that workplace seemed uneasy and everyone was insecure. No one ever knew what the expectations were, and thus no one was ever allowed to truly live out their potential, and the impact the environment had on productivity was catastrophic.
I have spent a majority of my career in the field of human resources and worked alongside both types of leaders. Inauthentic leadership was a blessing for me because it helped clarify my purpose on this great planet. I have compiled a comprehensive list of what not to do if you want to achieve success at the leadership level.
Earlier in my career, I worked closely with a senior executive who had difficulty with humility. His ego inflated at the pace of his rise in this large organization and along the way, he alienated those that he should have been embracing. A year after I left that organization, I got word that he was asked to leave. The inauthentic leadership style had run its course.
Trust is so central to a healthy team environment, and our followers look to us as examples of integrity and relatability, counting on us to always follow through. It is easy to become complacent with our words, leaving room for mistrust and doubt to creep in.
The good news is, we don’t have to let this happen. We have the choice, as leaders in our various roles, to be truly authentic at all times. To be vigilant regarding our words and our actions. To model to others that character matters, and people matter enough that we are willing to be real with them. Even to the point of getting our hands a little dirty and working through things that are difficult and sometimes painful.
At the end of the day, authenticity is about value. Truly caring for others enough to put them before our own ego and pride, and to be honest and vulnerable. It is about transforming culture, and transforming lives. It is about making an impact, wherever you are, and in whatever you do. Always Authentic. All of the time. Employees today expect it and your career depends on it. Frankly your legacy depends on it.