True authenticity is based upon curiosity rather than certainty. If we’re truly being authentic with one another we’re learning every moment so that we’re constantly adjusting. Authenticity is about correction not perfection.
Authentic leadership is actually evoking differences and different points of view. To grow in your leadership abilities you really need to surround yourself with people who think and act differently than you. Give them a voice and learn from the differences between you.
This is easier said than done. Most organizations have an unspoken set of rules and norms about what is acceptable to discuss and with whom. As Geraldine Haley, Global Head of Executive Talent and Management Team Support at Standard Chartered Bank, says, “We’ve built all these norms: all these informal and formal rules, about how you can speak to people, what you can say. People talk about the politics of the place. So the reality is that it’s not easy for people to just sit and tell the whole truth.”
That is why it is a real act of leadership to get to the heart of authenticity. Great leaders will strive to constantly break down old norms and informal rules and discover why people have challenges coming together. Authentic leaders will build an organizational climate where being truthful is the right thing to do. They will make it possible to be honest without fear so that barriers and obstacles can be overcome and people will be able to be more productive as a result. They will be able to surface the issues and the challenges and find a constructive and productive way of working through them. This enhances the relationship and the trust.
As Jim Motroni, Senior Partner at Conversant says “Being able to speak my authentic point of view with curiosity is going to be essential for us to handle the issues that we’ve got to handle.”