Nothing a leader can do or say means a thing unless it is done or said with authenticity.
Our ability to intuit the sincerity of a manager or boss even in the smallest of interactions means that the boss who isn’t authentic in what they say is unlikely to be able to engender the kind of loyalty that we want to see in our teams.
However, authenticity alone isn’t enough. It needs to be coupled with a willingness to share; to listen and to empathise as well to ask and to tell; each when appropriate.
Take Jeremy Corbyn for example: a man who believes passionately in equality, a fair and equitable system of government, accountability at all levels, a society that embraces change and progress even at the cost of arguably making the UK economy less balanced. He may not be to everyone’s taste, but he galvanised people in their tens – hundreds -of thousands to vote for him in the last Labour Party leadership elections.
Someone else who speaks with authority and confidence is the Dalai Lama. He too believes in a fairer and more equitable world. He doesn’t run a business, nor does he have a political platform, but his authority as an individual enhances that given by his position within the Buddhist religion, and his words reach and affect many millions – even billions – of people.
The position of governor of the Bank of England is one that carries the weight of authority with it, but the individuals who have held that position also carry authority of their own, and in recent times these individuals have spoken on matters that affect everyone in the UK through their control of interest rates and the flow of money through our economy.
But does authentic leadership matter when you’re in the front line of a business; negotiating deals, hiring and firing, delegating tasks (or failing to delegate them)?
The answer of course is yes.
What anyone requires in order to be considered a leader is that people listen to them, and that they in turn listen to others. This is no different in the workplace than it is in politics, religion or policy.
Ultimately I believe it can be boiled down to one very simple comparison:
A Boss says ‘go!’ – A leader says ‘Let’s go!’