Pleeeeeez!… If it’s genuine why headline it? It will speak for itself. You don’t have to do or be certain things to be ‘authentic’. You just are! So, with sceptical mind, I went to a conference workshop this week entitled ‘Developing Authentic Leadership’.
To be honest, I think I went for a fight. I think I went anticipating the same old same old ideas and formulae that I could challenge and kick at.
Ian Roberts from The Thinking Partnership started with a declaration his piece wasn’t in traditional workshop style. People were free to make comments and ask questions (so could learn from each other anyway) but he wasn’t into a traditional workshop… Or, it transpired, a traditional anything else!
Instead, he launched into several stories which showed how fake most of which goes by the name of authenticity is in our culture. And how it’s often seen in self leadership as finding your ‘essence’ in a narcissistic way, abandoning relationships, home, work, whatever and looking for some magical fit some mystery somewhere else.
I loved it! He was talking stuff in my upcoming book, albeit with a different approach and a different language. There were a few minor points where I disagreed but, hey, at core, he and I are absolutely on the same wave length,
Some other ‘coaches’ in the large audience most certainly didn’t love it!
They expressed disappointment his ‘workshop’ wasn’t in the traditional formula. They said they were confused… always a good sign indicating old ideas are breaking down and new ones in the process of forming.
They commented on how his manner had created a negative emotional reaction in them (so much for response-ability!). They expressed feelings mostly of anger or frustration, some of feeling insulted by his approach. And some verged on being personally attacking.
Never mind their palpable high levels of anxiety on having their expectations of the workshop and their beliefs about authentic leadership challenged big time!
And, if they didn’t comment, a large number of them just got up and left.
These were coaches! These were people to whom other people entrust their precious selves for growth. Yet they couldn’t sit with their own discomfort, dislike, diagreement, inner conflict or whatever else was going on for them. So, how on earth are they going to be able to sit with that of their clients when at a growing edge???
Found a great quotation from Einstein. ‘If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.’
Now, I don’t believe there’s one essential truth… Ian was outlining ‘the’ truth from his perspective. And he wasn’t elegant. He gave it straight from the shoulder. He responded to comments and questions, however uncomfortable, very much in the moment, present, standing in his own ground, saying it how it was for him…
He was modelling authentic leadership, what I call Inner Leadership!… Being aware of the other person’s position and feelings, being aware of his own reactions, which he later used as teaching points, and choosing neither to be defiant or compliant about the criticism but to respond honestly in the moment as best he could.
What a fabulous, fabulous opportunity for learning!
If you enjoy challenging yourself to become even more of who you are, click here to sign up for my fortnightly Inner Leadership Briefing and your exclusive report to find purpose at work right now!