POINT OF VIEW

Rotman Management Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Mar­garita Mayo

“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

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