Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Is Authenticity as a Leader Over Rated?

I have been reading a book entitled “Act Like a Leader, Think like a Leader” by Herminia Ibarra which has raised some interesting considerations about what “authenticity” means as a leader and also what Ibarra considers to be the new rules of management, which I’ve outlined below.

People become leaders unofficially – at one time there was a distinct moment when people became leaders, an official promotion, along with a change in job title and a new office. However now, people may find themselves in a leadership role somewhat unexpectedly. The expectations of your job change, perhaps you are asked to take responsibility for other staff working on a project with you. Somehow overnight you are now responsible for managing and developing these people, without necessarily having been prepared for this paradigm shift in responsibility.

Who is responsible for your development, you or the organization? – many people interviewed by Ibarra for her book, expressed dissatisfaction with the way in which their organizations are supporting their development and are finding their own ways to develop more effective, in some cases people found that their own managers did little to assist them during this transition. In some ways I have heard echo’s of this in my own work, recently I spoke with a group of managers in an organization who on average had waited 5+ years to get a place on their organization’s Leadership Program. Obviously the need for just in time learning is as important as ever and people can’t wait for 5 years to receive the development they need. It is little wonder therefore that people choose their own developmental path.

And finally … Is Authenticity as a Leader Over Rated – Ibarra’s point here is that authenticity in itself isn’t a bad thing, but rather that people have differing opinions as to what authenticity is. As she puts it – authenticity means being true to yourself – but it doesn’t necessarily mean having to be as you’ve always been. Overtime your values may shift, you may be influenced or be inspired by others thinking. As you move into a leadership role and interacting with others who aren’t necessarily like you, to be effective you may need to experiment with new approaches and get out of your comfort zone. As a result you may act differently than you did in the past, which doesn’t mean you’re not being true to yourself.

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