by Mignionette Fair, founder of Edita Services
Authenticity is a word that gets thrown around a lot in leadership, business and life. As with most things in life, we all define authenticity and authentic leadership differently.
For some people the definition might be:
And for others, this cat might be their spirit animal:
Whether you lead with perceived and actual confidence or only perceived confidence... whether you know where you are going or faking it 'til you make it... the most important thing is to stay true to who you are.
Paul Sohn wrote, “In essence, authenticity is where our external actions align with internal beliefs. It’s the congruency between who you are and who you appear to be.”
This is something I struggled with for a very long time. I was insecure and thought I had to be a leader who was the exact opposite of who I really was. It was only later that I learned there is just as much power in talking gently than talking loudly. Being an encouraging leader is just as powerful as being a visionary. There is power in admitting when you don't know something. It is absolutely fine to be real, vulnerable and genuine.
The graphic below is based on Bill George's definition of authentic leadership, and I think it's a good representation of what an authentic leader is, namely being aware of who you are, leading with passion and heart, and developing and practising solid values.
So, now that we have an idea of what an authentic leader is, let's consider some of the important aspects of authenticity:
This aspect is obviously very important to me. I believe that if you cannot communicate authentically and effectively, you will lose your audience. Why would you say something in three sentences when you can say it in one? Or why would you become a walking thesaurus when you can use simple language?
Also, think about authenticity in your verbal, non-verbal, and written communication.
*Something to think about: "When you write in plain language, your target audience can easily read, understand and take action the first time they read your content." (Genevieve Conti, https://zapier.com/blog/plain-language/)
Trust is a verb. The more people trust their leader, the more risks they will take and the more changes they will make. Organisations thrive under leadership who can be trusted. Just look at what the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa has done for South Africa in such a short time.
Why under-promise and over-deliver? As leaders, we should live lives of excellence.
*Something to think about: Which processes have you put in place to build or ensure competence?
We always wish to be further along than we are. We wish we could be like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama or Thuli Madonsela. And there is nothing wrong with that, but you are running your race! Authentic leadership is being the best you where you are at right now. You don't want to end up in a place where your character cannot sustain you.
In Part 2 of Becoming an authentic leader, I will unpack the rest of the aspects of authenticity and consider some of the characteristics of an authentic leader.
Have an awesome week and remember, you are be-you-tiful!
Until next time,
Mignionette Fair is the founder of editA, a one-stop language shop for anyone with a story to tell. Editing, copy-writing, translation… Mignionette and her team do it all! Whether you are a business owner, copy-writer, website developer, e-mail sender, newsletter distributor or love letter writer, editA helps you and your story shine brightly through excellent language and fantastic prices. editA has built in AI that ranks its wordsmiths against each other and into style categories. In this way, clients are ensured they get matched with the perfect wordsmith for their needs. editA’s turnaround times are also some of the best in the industry. To find out more, check out www.edita.online or email Mignionette direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
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