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What Is Your Authenticity?
Chameleon leadership, lessons from Oprah and a basketball legend
We all evolve every day in response to internal growth and the demands of the environment around us.
The leader you are today is not the leader you were yesterday. And not the leader you will be tomorrow.
When you take on something new, you are making an intentional leap into a new identity and version of yourself.
Yet it can be difficult to know what the best ‘authentic’ version of yourself in this new place will be and how to shift quickly into it, without having had time to figure it out.
It is human nature to present different versions of yourself to help navigate different situations. And it’s the key to being adaptable and flexible; both critical qualities for effective leaders.
However, stretching, or even going against, your natural style can often lead to discomfort and feeling like an imposter.
Being authentic is something that many look for in leaders. In fact three quarters of people want to see and feel more authenticity at work.
So how do you stay yourself whilst finding authenticity in a new space?
Here are six things to get you started.
Know thyself: One, of many interpretations, of authentic leadership is ‘leading from your core’. Follow the Ancient Greek maxim and get to know thyself.
What you strip everything back, what values are at your core?
If you could be a role model for them what would those around you see and feel?
What one thing could you change in your approach today to get started?
Emulate: Soak up the best from those around you. Steal Like An Artist author Austin Kleon shares how Kobe Bryant developed his authentic style:
““There isn’t a move that’s a new move”. The basketball star Kobe Bryant has admitted that all of his moves on the court were stolen from watching tapes of his heroes. But initially, when Bryant stole a lot of those moves, he realised he couldn’t completely pull them off because he didn’t have the same body type as the guys he was thieving from. He had to adapt the moves to make them his own.. Our failure to perfectly copy our heroes is where ‘our thing’ lives.”
When you’re taking on something new, look around you. Watch carefully.
Who does what you want to do well?
What drives that behaviour in them?
And what can you experiment with?
Where did you fail? What did you learn about you?
Measure: There are no precise or universally accepted measures for successful authentic leadership today. Promotions, pay rises or KPI results perhaps? If we measure it on the ability to engage and inspire, establish core values or lead others through critical change under pressure that’s much harder. And what it takes to lead in today’s volatile chaotic world has shifted phenomenally from just two years ago.
What are your metrics for your own authentic leadership, regardless of role?
Which parts feel natural and effortless to you right now?
Where are you using the need to be authentic as an excuse for not stretching yourself?
Honour Oprah: Brett Meager shares some excellent insight on his piece here for Inc.com on what you can learn from Oprah about being an authentic leader
Read: Herminia Ibarra has fantastic insight on how to be authentic in a new role; including the irony of authenticity becoming a requirement to which leaders must conform. Listen here:
Wise words: There are 7.9 billion of us on planet earth right now and every single one of us is unique.
But remember, there is only one of you. And no matter what challenges you face, no-one else can do it better.
p.s. We now have an app! The discussion threads, links and podcasts all function in the app, so it might be that you prefer reading Leadership with Rebecca that way, rather than via email.
It’s currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.