Latest Issue

It is always the right time to do the right thing

I had a sales director once that used to say that it is always the right time to do the right thing. He taught me that generating sales is relatively simple; just help the client. He was well respected, very clear about his values, and was the same person at work as he was in private. This manger was what would be termed an “authentic leader.” With his guidance, I found selling was easy once I stopped worrying about making the sale and concerned myself with helping others. This meant walking away from sales that were not in my clients’ best interest. I made it clear I wanted to work with them long-term and would look out for them. This, in turn, earned me their trust.

Authentic leadership is an approach to leading others through building trust by being honest, open, and ethical. Simply put, what you see is what you get with authentic leaders. Unfortunately, authentic leadership seems to be a rare style of management these days. Our culture seems to reward greed and self-centeredness with popular phrases such as, “it’s only business” or “money makes the world go ‘round.”

Some examples of leaders that lack authenticity are religious leaders that coerce their flocks to commit acts of hate or fleece them of their hard-earned money. You would be amazed at the net worth of some of today’s most famous preachers. Elected officials in Washington, D.C. may be the most infamous set of inauthentic leaders, still. Many rarely keep any promises they made before the polls, and the term corrupt politician seems almost redundant.

Conversely, authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that emphasizes building honest relationships with followers that are based on an ethical foundation. Authentic leaders also value input. Generally, authentic leaders are positive people who promote openness and transparency. This concept was made famous by author and executive, Bill George, in his book appropriately titled, Authentic Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2003).

In his book, George theorizes that there are five dimensions to authentic leadership: purpose and passion, values and behavior, relationships and connectedness, self-discipline and consistency, and heart and compassion.

Purpose is the leader’s sense of direction and mission. If purpose is strong enough, it is followed by passion, which is the inspiration and drive to follow through with their mission.

Values are the concrete principles by which authentic leaders live and work. These principles are displayed through the leader’s behavior. In my opinion, there is no greater proof that someone is authentic than if they “walk the talk.” At the end of the day, actions, not words, define the person!

Authentic leaders are relationship builders. They can connect with those they lead and can relate in ways that make them tangible in a sense. They are not simply distant authority figures but are relatable. They give and earn respect, and they demonstrate that they are real people.

Authentic leaders display self-discipline and consistency. I have a very successful friend that is the head of sales for a company in Philadelphia. These are two of the principles by which he lives and will site as the reason for his success. When asked, he will say these are things he did not pick up in college but instead learned during his military service. He is well respected, has a magnetic personality, and when he speaks, one cannot but help to take note. “Be honest, be fair, and be consistent,” is his mantra.

Lastly, authentic leaders demonstrate heart and compassion. They sincerely care about their followers and demonstrate this on a regular basis. This goes beyond just business. They genuinely strive to make the world better.

All of us are leaders of some sort. We may run companies, classrooms, or simply set an example to those around us. All of us need to be authentic leaders. That is to say that we are not artificial under certain circumstances or allow ourselves to use different sets of values depending upon the situations with which we are presented. We must always display our core values in everything we do. Our actions define us, and if we are truly good, authentic people, others will know it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *