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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 07, 2017 1:00 am

Balance crucial to authenticity in leadership

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Authentic.

That word came to mind last week as I thought about the varying expectations for leaders and how challenging it may be to meet what everyone else wants or needs.

Sure, every organization has some goals and expectations, but those are likely more strategic than personal or interpersonal.

I recalled listening to a more than weeklong series of podcasts last summer in which “authentic” was mentioned by several leadership experts being interviewed. After one podcast, listeners had a chance to take an extensive self-assessment. Statements included:

•I can and do show my boundaries very clearly.

•I fully understand and actively engage in taking care of myself first in order to best serve others.

•I have a crystal-clear accountability system that I hold all my team members to.

•I am always looking for ways to empower my people.

•I understand the value of and facilitate fun in the work environment.

•I provide regular personal growth opportunities for my team.

•When I fail I feel the pain/disappointment of it, and then look at what I learned from it.

•I am extremely curious about people and what makes them tick.

•I, and all leaders in the organization, refer back to our core values and core purpose when giving praise or reprimands.

•I am masterful at making all my team members fell deeply appreciated and valued.

Those are just a snapshot from the assessment, which I think included at least 40 statements grouped in four categories: authentic leadership in action; culture, purpose and leadership development; emotional intelligence; and communication and conflict resolution.

On some statements, I could score myself high and on others, I had to score myself low. I think it would be the same for most leaders, giving an honest self-assessment.

Being authentic is a balancing act. As some of the statements above show, you have to be sensitive and engaged with those you're working with, while keeping your focus, maintaining standards and getting the results leaders are most accountable for.

What motivates one team member to get those results may not motivate another. And it can be challenging for leaders to constantly switch gears based on the personalities they're engaged with rather than having a consistent style.

In the spirit of give and take, perhaps those on a team should consider the style of the leader as much as their own preferences.

That doesn't mean there's not room for everyone to grow – recognizing shortcomings is part of authenticity. But being true to self is also one of the best measures of authenticity. 

Avoid the 3 D's

S. Chris Edmonds, who focuses on workplace culture, recently shared through email the most common signs of disrespect. He called them the three D's: discounting, dismissing and demeaning behaviors. They create an I-win, you-lose dynamic, said Edmonds, who has served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995, and is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, based in the Denver, Colorado, area.

“It's a painful environment to live in and to operate in,” he said. Leaders should “quash those disrespectful behaviors immediately.”

Of course, it can be difficult to eliminate something without replacing it with something else. Among Edmonds' suggestions: Respect, integrity, excellence, service, even fun. 

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on.