Authentic Leadership is Overhyped

Your Team Needs Your Best Self, Not Your True Self.

Let’s talk leadership authenticity – that buzzword plastered across so many HR blogs and management seminars. Be yourself! Lead with transparency! It’s all the rage, right? But here’s the harsh truth: in moments of high uncertainty, when your team is grasping for stability, pure, unfiltered authenticity can be a recipe for disaster.

Think about it. Your team is facing a major restructure. Morale is low, fear is high, and you’re just as lost as they are. Do they really need to hear your every worry and doubt? Do they need a leader who mirrors their anxieties? Absolutely not.

Here’s the problem with authenticity: it’s messy. It’s riddled with vulnerabilities and uncertainties. And while vulnerability can be a strength in calmer times, in moments of crisis, it can be perceived as weakness. Your team needs a lighthouse, not a flickering candle.

So, what’s the alternative? Being your best authentic self. This isn’t about faking it till you make it. It’s about harnessing the power of your authentic leadership style, while strategically managing what you communicate during high-stress situations.

Here’s how:

  • Acknowledge Uncertainty, Not Fear: It’s okay to say, “I don’t have all the answers yet, but we’ll figure it out together.” This acknowledges the situation’s complexity without projecting fear.
  • Focus on What You Do Know: Articulate your core values and the organisation’s purpose with unwavering conviction. Remind your team of the “why” behind the organisation’s existence, providing a sense of purpose amidst change.
  • Project Optimism, Not Blind Hope: Be realistic about the challenges ahead, but also showcase your belief in the team’s ability to overcome them. This balance inspires confidence without sugar coating reality.

Remember, being your best authentic self is about intentional leadership. It’s about understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and adapting your communication style to the needs of the situation.

Your team doesn’t need your unfiltered anxieties. They need a leader who radiates calm, inspires confidence, and guides them through the storm. They need your best self, not just your “true” self. Because in the end, true leadership isn’t about being perfectly authentic, it’s about being the leader your team needs you to be.

Want to develop your leadership skills and become your best authentic self for your team? Our highly-acclaimed residential Catapult Leadership Programme provides proven tools and frameworks to help you navigate uncertainty, build resilience, and foster a high-performing team.