Management Café #11: Should we be "Authentic Leaders"?

In this episode, Pilar looks at what we mean by "authentic leadership" and what that might look like in practice. (And whether that's how we want to define our leadership style.)

Today’s episode has been inspired by this article. You might want to read it before listening.

The Truth About Authentic Leaders  by Bill George,  author of “Authentic Leadership”
What did you think? What did you take from it? What are your questions/observations/reservations/agreements?

Here is what I took from it and the thoughts this article sparked in me
1) What is “authentic leadership”?

Not pretending we’re someone we’re not.

Not pretending we know everything.

Let our personality and values through (not necessarily our personal life)

Make unpopular decisions that aligh with our values – tricky for middle management

It’s a great alternative to “heroic leadership” where you are seen as having to pull the cart.

I would say we need flexibility, self-awareness and a degree of vulnerability.

Example from Originals, loc 3152

2) The “bringing your whole self to work” dilemma.

Flexibility is key – and after all, we bring different parts of ourselves to different situations and different relationships.

Low self-monitors; High self-monitors

“Authentic leaders are sensitive to the impact their words and actions have on others, not because they are “messaging” the right talking points.

“They don’t hide behind flaws, instead they seek to understand them.”

It’s not about being rigid, but in being honest about who you are.

“One of the hardest things for leaders to do is to understand how other people see them, which is often quite different than how they want to be seen.”

“Adapt the style without compromising character.”

Go back to the point on vulnerability – another article, this time from Inc.
Jack Ma made a Fool of Himself Last Week. Smart Move. Inc sept21st 2017
About being approachable and human – core of authentic leadership

However, needs to be backed by actions and reputation elsewhere.

(3) We always associate being “authentic” with “good”.
This means, if we want a culture of authenticity, need to look out for values when we recruit, especially when we recruit people in positions of authority.

For Your Reflection

In the office, we can be ourselves, but what happens in the remote space? (or flexible)
Need to be more deliberate. Our communication; make room for synchronous discussions; explain your decisions; ask questions to understand others before you try to understand actions through your own values

What parts of me would be more useful to bring to work? (To my communication, to my interactions, to my decisions?)

How much is my own behaviour encourating or deterring people from bringing their “whole selves” to work?

How can we constantly remind ourselves that we are human?

Because that’s really at the core of authentic leadership, not super heroes, but humans.