POINT OF VIEW
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
As Shakespeare indicates in this quote from Hamlet, being true to oneself — being authentic — is a pre-condition of being true to others, and has been a sign of moral authority throughout history.
One of the most pressing issues we face today is a lack of trust in our leaders. People are increasingly unlikely to trust a person just because they hold a senior position. Leadership scholars agree that authenticity—or a lack thereof—lies near the heart of the crisis of confidence in contemporary leadership.
In my work I have identified three characteristics that set authentic leaders apart.
Emotional authenticity includes ways to increase HEART. your self-awareness through unbiased processing of your strengths and weaknesses, cultivating your passion and transmitting it to others with humility, as well as using parts of your life story to underscore the truth of your leadership.
Behavioural authenticity means consistently acting in HABIT. accordance with your principles while fostering an optimistic outlook and staying in control of your destiny. The habit of learning is a key behavioural element of authentic leaders, who embrace a growth mindset and proactively seek out honest feedback in order to adapt and progress.
Social authenticity entails building authentic HARMONY. teams and organizations with a caring mentality and col- lective identity, creating a community that changes with the times and achieving a balance between agency and communion.
Authenticity has been historically considered by psychologists as the very essence of well-being. However, despite its importance to the human condition, the empirical research on authenticity is patchy. Only recently have scholars developed validated measures to assess feelings of authenticity, and the lack of it — inauthenticity.
A group of researchers led by Alex Wood at the University of Manchester conducted a series of studies to develop a measure of authenticity and test its relation to well-being. In a nutshell, says Wood, authenticity involves “being true to oneself in most situations and living in accordance with one’s values and beliefs.” This is what the researchers label ‘authentic living’. The team also developed a scale to measure inauthenticity or feelings of self-alienation, which refers to the ‘subjective experience of not knowing oneself, or feeling out of touch with the true self.
In one study, the researchers explored the relationship between feelings of authenticity and inauthenticity based on two indicators of subjective well-being: stress and happiness. They asked participants to indicate how often in the previous month they found their lives unpredictable (‘upset about something that happened unexpectedly’), uncontrollable (‘unable to control irritations in your life’) and overwhelming (‘felt that you were not on top of things’), and asked them for their perception of happiness.
An interesting pattern emerged: Authenticity was positively related to happiness and negatively related to stress. But the correlations of inauthenticity with less happiness