Monday, April 20, 2015

What does Being Authentic Mean?

Being authentic means to be who you are, discover your strength and uniqueness, be yourself, even if you are not perfect, and nobody is.

The issue of authenticity has been considered and written about for decades (if not centuries), yet it continues popping up as an issue/problem/ requirement, is it an unsolvable issue? What does being authentic really mean?

Being authentic is defined as being real or genuine: But what does "real" mean? To what standard are we being genuine? First and foremost, remove the filter of your biases in your vision. By doing so, you will be able to perceive the authentic identity of the other person. Go with what you know and be open to learning from those you lead. Leading is only possible when you truly know yourself. Who you are and why? Daring to start to find an answer to this question enables anybody to lead oneself and possibly others. Defining your true purpose is a helpful instrument to guide yourself, your team, your business, and your relations along the other dimensions. It is your heart that ultimately contributes to a better world.

Be consistent with thought, words, behaviors, advice, how you treat others, and so on: Being consistent during the good and tough moments is difficult for leaders as they advance in their career. Being authentic means being true to that in every aspect: thinking, saying and doing. If this standard is internalized, then it should guide behavior. If it is not internalized but being implemented anyway, and one's thoughts and beliefs are not in consonance with this standard, then the individual's behavior will not be true to that standard, it will not be genuine. This dissonance will eventually become apparent.

Discover the strength and uniqueness: The next step is investigating what’s your strength, your passion: defining your task, things you want to do and do better than others. Leadership is complex yet simple. Complex in that there are so many traits and characteristics that are considered when evaluating a leader. The emphasis is on trying to determine which competencies or capabilities should be used in which combination, and with what level of weight for each, for every different situation. The simplicity comes from knowing that leadership is about the future, and the leaders of future should reflect the future trends. If we all act based on our hearts, follow the golden rule and do what we think is right for the good of others, we will be respected for that, will be trusted and will earn the title of leader.

Learn self-awareness, engage in reflective practice: Indeed, it is at two-level reflection: (i) personally- who are you and what is happening in your life that influences your career pursuit. To be "authentic" and genuine first and foremost, ensuring that your voice and actions are in synchronization by combined action, endurance, and with the right spirit. This must be relevant within boundaries to maintain professionalism in the organization. (ii) professionally- are you a business innovator or a change agent, a thinker or a doer? How can you take leadership to achieve organizational success? One of the most important things leaders can do for people they wish to lead is to work towards emotional connections with those they wish to influence. The leader creates the vision, the mission, the objective, the goal, whatever one wishes to call it. It is then the leaders’ responsibility to frame a story around that vision that people can relate to and feel connected with. It's the age old adage of followers wanting to know 'What's in it for me?' or 'How will I benefit from this effort?' This does not necessarily refer strictly to subordinates either. A leader can exist at all levels of an organization, therefore, a manager may have to frame a story around a specific objective so their supervisors choose to follow the recommendation.

It seems everyone who considers authenticity has his or her own view of it. It is a construct formed in the mind and we know that the mind of every individual is different, the actual mental understanding and subsequent manifestations in action will be different for each individual. One cannot universally ascribe real world consequences to a construct, in this case, authenticity, as it will be unique to each individual. In short, being authentic means to be who you are, be yourself, even you are not perfect, and nobody is.


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