How Authenticity and Leadership Go Hand-In-Hand

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a strong leader? Experts disagree on some of the finer points, but one thing they tend to agree on is the need for authenticity. Strong leaders are authentic in the sense that they are people who strive for honesty and integrity.

For the record, authenticity means different things to different people. Some people consider authenticity as being true to yourself and who you are. Others see it as being open and honest with your thoughts and emotions. Regardless of the particularities of any one definition, they all have something in common: the need for honesty and integrity.

Authenticity in terms of being true to yourself requires honestly accepting who you are and then having the integrity to align your actions with your thoughts and emotions. Authenticity in leadership requires being honest with yourself and others and having the integrity to apply the truth to whatever you are trying to accomplish.

LatinX clothing brand

Just Tell Me the Truth

The Wright Foundations’ Dr. Bob Wright wrote a compelling piece a few years ago discussing what it means to be authentic. He authored his article from the perspective of leadership, both professionally and personally. Early on in his post, he relayed the story of a consultant who had attended one of his training sessions.

One of the things the Foundation teaches business leaders is to tell the truth. They teach leaders not to sugarcoat or soft-pedal things in order to avoid offending. This particular consultant applied what he learned to a business meeting he had with a high-profile client. Despite his fear, he told the client exactly what he observed – both good and bad.

The client went on to thank him for his honesty. He related how most consultants are afraid to tell them the truth because they do not want to offend him. Long story short, the client and consultant developed a very strong business relationship and eventually became good friends.

The point Wright was making should be clear: leadership requires honesty and integrity. They are the two foundations of authenticity. Fail to practice them and you are failing to be authentic. And if that’s the case, you’ll find it very hard to be a strong leader.

Leading an Industry

One can see how authenticity is necessary among individuals trying to lead organizations. But what about organizations trying to lead industries? Do the same principles apply? Yes.

Plurawl is a LatinX clothing brand based in New York. The company was founded on the principle of authenticity within the LatinX community. Everything the company does is based on a desire to promote LatinX culture and to encourage Latinos and Latinas to live their culture openly and proudly.

Whether or not you are a member of the LatinX community, you have to give the company credit for staying true to the culture. Ownership isn’t going to alter its message or change its marketing strategy in order to satisfy supposed business norms. They are proud of who they are and not afraid to put it out there.

A Hunger for Honesty and Integrity

When you examine the success of strong leaders – be they individuals or organizations – you discover that there is a genuine hunger for honesty and integrity out there. People do not like being lied to. They also don’t like being coddled, at least not in the long term.

Right now, there are leadership voids in nearly every aspect of the culture. Perhaps it’s because we have lost our authenticity. We have lost our willingness to be honest and driven by integrity. And if so, that is a shame.


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