How do authentic leaders come across as truly credible? For one thing, people don’t believe leaders who exhibit questionable behavior. If a leader shows flexible morality in one arena, they are not going to be perceived as 100% ethical in others. Being true, inwardly and outwardly, avoids this potential pitfall.
In my coaching practice, I’ve seen some well-intentioned leaders sabotage their own efforts by striving to come across as bigger and better than they are. It’s an easy trap to fall into. And it doesn’t take much. A slight exaggeration here or there, and credibility is destroyed.
Trueness to oneself is the most basic form of genuineness, which aligns with authenticity. Faking things is deceptive and eventually evident to all. People aren’t fooled for long. They’ll question and distrust inconsistencies. Being true to yourself requires healthy self-awareness and self-worth. Who you are is the person people will see, and it’s the noble character in you they want to see.
Consistency in trueness builds credibility. People know who they’ll face day in and day out, through good and tough times. Great leaders are mindful of this. They’ve trained themselves to proactively discern the high road and take it, with honorable motives. Noble character, lived out on a regular basis, is the anchor of authenticity that people need to weather any storm.
Outward truthfulness is also critical. Honesty shouldn’t be the best policy; it should be the only policy. Leaders caught in a lie inflict damage to themselves and those around them. A quick glance at today’s headlines should serve as a brisk confirmation. Nothing builds barricades faster than a leader who tries to deceive. Truthfulness is a pillar your culture cannot be without, so lead with it.
Exercise judgment when truth must be guarded. Confidentiality is required for credibility. Sensitive, personal or private information must be handled carefully and discreetly. Don’t jump to conclusions or make decisions based on assumptions or rumors. Once inappropriate things are said or misinformation falls into the wrong hands, it cannot be retracted. Tension soars, and credibility plummets.
Credible leaders avoid these kinds of risks. They use professional language, with the proper sensitivities, cautions and accuracies. This doesn’t mean there can’t be light or even humorous moments, but they shouldn’t be careless or reckless.
What about where you work? Are your leaders paying attention to ways to build authenticity? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 561-582-6060, let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.