Is authenticity dead?


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For years we have heard about the importance of authenticity in leadership. I have worked in organisations where I have been told I’m too authentic and that I need to tone parts of myself down and I have worked in others where ‘bringing my whole self to work’ enabled me to thrive.

Authenticity is tricky and chatting to Advita Patel and Trudy Lewis after thought-provoking keynotes at the IABC World Conference has made me wonder about the whole concept.

Advita had heard a recent speaker at the Manchester Comms Hero event talk about authenticity not necessarily being a good thing and that being genuine was far more important.

This conversation rumbled on over the week as we explored how we use social media, what it means to be a leader and being our own selves at work.

Genuine feels right. Even as I explore my ‘personal brand’ I will not put on an armour to please others. I will always be genuine. To me this is different to being authentic. If you know me, you know I can be blunt and challenging. If I was authentic I would probably be this way all the time but I feel like being genuine is more about being you in the right context.

To be genuine for me is to care. Sometimes I care too much about a topic or a person, but that is a genuine emotion I carry with me everywhere.

So as I work with and advise business owners and leaders of teams about their leadership style, I’m going to focus in on being genuine. Where your purpose lies, the genuine behaviours should follow.

What do you think? Authentic or genuine?

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