#44 The value of being an authentic leader

For a long time the dominant narrative of leadership has been of fearless leaders who move from triumph to triumph without serious flaws or doubt. But in recent years there has been a move towards authentic leadership. Leaders who show vulnerability and who share their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Over coffee Pilar and Tim dig into authentic leadership, the benefits it can deliver for leaders and companies. And also why it isn’t for everyone.

0:30 min Tim references this quote from Brianna Wiest on Twitter “I no longer need the armor, my softness is the strongest part of me.

2:55 Are authenticity and vulnerability always linked?

5:30 Pilar argues that some forms of being authentic can be harmful, perhaps a better aim is leaders who behave without pretense.

6:30 Tim’s neighbour is not very authentic.

7:30 Unauthentic behaviour isn’t just nasty people pretending to be nice. It can also be relatively nice people hiding any “negative” traits.

8:30 A key component of trust is that the person will follow through on their commitments. A lack of authenticity can be a barrier to trust. Tim argues that it’s similar with someone who won’t deal with bad news, it’s hard to trust them when they avoid reality.

10:00 Pilar identifies the core issue: someone feeling like they have to be someone else to be liked or to be effective. But as leaders it’s probably more important to be trusted than liked.

11:30 Without authenticity we miss valuable opportunities for deep connection. Not everyone wants connection with their co-workers, but does the work suffer as a result?

14:00 Tim shares how he benefited as a leader by being vulnerable and authentic in a difficult situation.

16:20 Pilar references some wonderful research which showed that leaders who shared their foibles as well as their strengths were perceived as more trustworthy and generated more goodwill. And this effect was heightened if you share your true self at a time when you have a lot at stake.

17:50 When a leader admits they don’t know the answer or that a situation is difficult, it actually creates space and possibility for people to find the best path forward.

19:30 Tim shares his struggles with thought leadership that makes things look too easy or positive. He gained much more encouragement within communities of leaders sharing their real “warts and all” experience like the Business of Software.

22:45 Pilar closes by posing a question for a future coffee: is it possible to be too authentic?

What about you, dear listener? Do you think authenticity is important in leadership? Is authenticity linked to vulnerability? Can you be too authentic? We’d love to hear from you.

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