Risk-taking and Authenticity
“Well, you asked for my opinion. It’s better to be honest.”
Risk-taking and authenticity means being true to yourself, knowing that what you believe and think is not compromised by what others believe and think. But as you can imagine, people who will not compromise their ‘authenticity’ can be SO right, they can be wrong, hurtful and disdainful of the way others see things. They can come across as arrogant and can actually end up having little or no impact. So, it’s important to understand in most risk-taking situations how much risk you are willing to take with your ‘authenticity.’ Who would you consider authentic and true to their ideas? Gandhi?, Sandra Day O’Connor?, George W. Bush?, Oprah?
Compromising your authenticity can be damaging to you. If you aren’t authentic, people may consider you untrustworthy.
We are lucky to have a couple of key thought leaders in the dialogue around authenticity: Kevin Cashman, CEO of LeaderSource (now part of Korn-Ferry), and Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and on the faculty at Harvard University. Both of them view the discussion of authenticity as being comfortable with who you are and ‘how you show up’ in the world. They specifically are addressing themselves to leaders, but in fact much of what they say applies to all of us.
Bill George (author of True North) talks about authenticity as knowing who you really are and being able to inspire others around you toward a common sense of purpose.
Kevin Cashman challenges us to think about leadership and authenticity in terms of how we go about expressing ourselves more authentically. As he says, “ I constantly challenge clients to ask, Where is my leadership coming from? Do our actions originate from deep within ourselves, or are they coming from a more superficial, limited place?”
To take a risk requires us to being courageous!
You can help re-ignite your authenticity by practicing the following three actions:
- Saying, “I disagree.”
- Readily giving feedback.
- Saying it how you see it, and then living with others’ reactions.