Leadership and authenticity coaching

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As a leader of a company or group of people, it is a pre-requisite that you are consistently authentic. Unfortunately, authenticity is not something you can pretend to be. You can learn it. For example through coaching. What is authenticity and why is it important to be authentic as a leader?

When is someone authentic?

Authenticity is the ability to be congruent with your own values, ideas, beliefs, needs, and character despite the influence of external factors. It actually means that you can be completely yourself no matter what other people say, do or believe.

Note that this does not mean that authentic people say or do anything without taking others into account. The ability they have is to remain true to themselves without knowingly or unconsciously insulting or shocking people.

Why is authenticity important for good leadership?

It is important for leaders to be consistent and credible. Leaders give direction, and if that direction changes all the time, they are difficult to follow.

Consistency and authenticity in leaders

Authentic people are not easily tempted to adjust their opinions or beliefs. This does not mean that they are not open to new ideas and input. They immerse themselves in a subject, form an opinion and will hold on to it as long as the opposite is not proven. Regardless of what others think and think.

Many governments have fallen thanks to authentic leaders. They disagreed with the policy and - often against the will of large crowds - took up the fight against injustice. José Mujica is such a person. He fought against the dictatorship in the eighties in Uruguay. In spite of the fact that many people adored the dictator and gave him 12 years in prison, he stuck to his opinion. In 2010 he became the new president of Uruguay because of his firmness and consistency in what he believes in.

Credibility and authenticity among leaders

Leaders must be credible in order to be followed. If a leader is not trusted, his advice and questions will not be followed or will not be followed properly. If Fidel Castro had said that he thinks communism might be a good idea, he could never have transformed an entire country. If he had said firmly that communism is a good idea, but one would see doubt in his eyes and attitude, he probably wouldn't have succeeded either.

The same José Mujica who was imprisoned for 12 years has become known as the poorest president in the world. He is often interviewed and likes to talk about how modestly he lives with his wife. Everything he says about living modestly comes from every single fibre of his body. More authenticity is scarce in the world.

Can you act authenticity?

Very good actors can come across as very authentic. But especially when it comes to movies of people who really existed, you can see the difference. Actor Ben Kingsley played Ghandi in the film of the same name. He played the role brilliantly, but if you put the film footage of the real Ghandi next to it, you can see just that little difference that made Ghandi truly authentic.

Another example is the actor Rami Malek who was widely praised for his role as Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. His voice and performance in the film are almost the same as the real Freddie, yet you can see in the video below that he is not authentic.

Freddie's movements are more spontaneous and come straight from the heart. Freddie's gaze is more captivating. You can see that he means what he sings and enjoys the audience. See the differences below.

The difference between authentic and charismatic leadership

The difference between authenticity and charisma in leaders is that authenticity says something about yourself and charisma says something about the influence on others.

Although the two concepts are not necessarily connected, they do influence each other. A charismatic leader knows how to set other people in motion or convince them of his own ideas through charm or persuasion. Authentic people and leaders do not necessarily have to be masters of this trait.

Charismatic leaders can radiate authority of their own without it being given by anyone. It is the charismatic people who are the first to take the lead when a situation demands it. For example in case of a necessary evacuation. Authenticity plays almost no role in this, but it does ensure that the charismatic leader fully trusts his own opinion and expresses it no matter what people think.

Can you learn authentic leadership?

Anyone can learn authenticity through coaching. The coach helps you to discover and express your own values, norms, beliefs and insights. He also makes you more aware of your character and the way you manifest yourself.

Through questions and targeted feedback you will become more aware of what you want to remain truthful to regardless of the opinions of others. That is the first step towards authenticity.

The second step to become more authentic is to dare to manifest yourself in all circumstances without offending or frustrating others. This is about daring to express yourself and to speak out. It is also about overcoming a conscious or unconscious fear.

Online authentic leadership coaching through TheONE

Through TheONE, authentic leadership coaches from around the world are available to coach online via a video connection. You choose which coach suits you best and pay per minute for as long as the session lasts.

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