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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

No Authenticity, No Leadership

No Authenticity, No Leadership post image

There’s one thing about me that virtually every boss I’ve had so far has tried to correct. If you look at me all my emotions are painted on my face. You just can’t fail guessing whether I’m happy, worried, tired, excited, etc. I’ve heard so many times that I should do something about that since having people see my negative emotions definitely isn’t a good thing.

You know, they see you worried so they instantly start worrying too and you don’t want to have worried people.

I think I’ve even tried to change that. Fortunately, I’ve failed. Not that I don’t see how leader’s emotions can influence team’s behaviors. I do. And I know that sometimes I’m not helping, sorry for that.

On the other hand, I’m honest and transparent this way. I’m all for honesty. I believe that transparency is a crucial ingredient for building a healthy team or a strong organization. In the worst case this attitude is a mixed blessing.

But that’s not why I won’t try to change the behavior any more. I won’t do it because it’s who I am.

One doesn’t have to like it. Such attitude doesn’t fit every organizational culture (and I learned it the hard way). But you aren’t a leader if you aren’t authentic.

I was reminded that recently by Gwyn Teatro with her story about what leadership is. One bit I really loved:

The man was successful because he did not pretend to be anyone else. His communication style included fun, laughter and humility. It worked for him simply because it is who he is.

More than about anything else it’s about authenticity. People catch false tones sooner than you think. Then, they start guessing what really happens under the mask. It’s likely that their guesses are worse than the truth that one tries to hide. After all we are a creative bunch, aren’t we? It soon becomes worse: they don’t listen to the truth, even when it bites their butts. They just know better thanks to the gossips and far-fetched hunches. Their “leader” hasn’t been authentic so what’s the point of trusting him?

So no, I’m not trading my authenticity for anything. Not worth it.

in: team management

1 comment… add one

  • tz February 10, 2013, 6:59 pm

    The only thing worse than being authentic is being successful at being inauthentic. Smiling while the company is losing revenue then having to announce layoffs with a rictus-smile. If you can’t – never lie, people will easily believe you. Your face will be a barometer so will show the external weather accurately. If you can lie – show high pressure although a hurricane is about to arrive, they will seek alternate means of information, take evasive or protective action, or simply leave.

    Reality will eventually come out and become obvious to everyone.

    The only caution is there are natural optimists and pessimists, so they are like miscalibrated barometers, being more worried or happy than the conditions warrant.

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