A Filter for Action
As our regular blog-readers and OnStage Grads already know, my favorite definition of authentic, in relation to leadership or influence, comes from former Medtronic CEO and Harvard Business School professor, Bill George: Authentic: genuine, worthy of trust, reliance, and belief. The challenge with this definition (and indeed, what I love about it) is not whether or not we can convince ourselves that we”re “all that” (for many of us have a very rosy view of how authentic we think ourselves to be) but rather, do the people in our lives experience us that way?
As I’m noodling over what I want to create for myself in 2014, this definition keeps bubbling up. For if I want the people around me to experience me as authentic, then just writing my goals with myself and my own ambitions in mind isn’t going to cut it. My actions require a higher level of mindfulness.
The questions to ask ourselves are these: What do the people in my work and in my life need, in order to experience me as genuine? To experience me as worthy of trust? As reliable and believable?
And, when you think about it, the answers aren’t so simple. For what your boss is going to need from you, in order to experience you as worthy of trust or reliable, is going to be very different from what your direct reports might need from you. Or what your clients might need from you. Or your significant other might need from you. Or your kids.
And that doesn’t mean we should all become shape-shifters and change who we are in every situation, what I’m saying is that to be authentic, we have to authentically care about the needs of the people around us.
Not to just get them to do what we want them to do.
Not to just make them think highly of us.
Not to just get the business or keep the client.
Not to just placate, or appease, or impress.
We have to authentically care. For real.
What do they need to find you genuine, worthy of trust, reliable, and believable?
How might that inform your strategic planning? How might that inform the way you engage your employees? Talk to your customers? Prepare for your meetings? The way you show up in life?
Not simple. Lots of hard work. But incredibly powerful.
For imagine what would be possible if more people cared like that? If more leaders cared like that?
We can. Or at least we can give it everything we’ve got.
Let’s let authenticity be our filter for action in 2014 and, together, see what is possible.