Posts Tagged: Alan Burkhard

The Value of Being Authentic as a Leader!

November 12th, 2009

Authentic by definition is conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief. For a leader to be authentic they must understand the power and responsibility that comes with it. Business can get tough. Difficult decisions get made. Choices. Survival or not. Along the way authenticity gets challenged. What do you do about it. Live with it. Feedback will happen. We cannot satisfy everyone. It is not healthy nor desirable. Be direct, be honest. Share everything. Be authentic in as many interactions as possible. Why not every time? Because we are human and imperfect. However be the better person and learn to apologize. As my Father, a pretty famous leader himself would say, “Bless and release. Life is too short to hold a grudge.”

Leaders are flawed when at their best anyway. No one likes it perfect. It is too plastic. We don’t trust it. It appears to be something we can’t believe is real. I am not suggesting that we plan to make mistakes or show our vulnerability. Most of us just need to be ourselves and use the situations we create!  Again, mistakes and challenges abound. Just pay attention to your day or week. Plenty of fodder to pick from.

An associate Heather referred me to a great article article that discussed a talk George Washington gave in March of 1783 to the Continental Army, after his speech. Dozens of officers representing every company in the army met in a log hut to vote on overthrowing the Continental Congress. After his speech, it was reported that many officers were left unconvinced. Then, George Washington pulled out a letter from a member of the congress, and as he read, he began to lose his confidence. He looked at his troops and asked softly and apologetically if they would bear with him, as his eyesight was failing from the war. He put on his “spectacles”, and continued.

It reported that the officers were “electrified”. This was their commander and leader, who had kept the army going while others continually told him it was a losing battle, and he was asking them to bear with him with his failing eyesight. They saw him for the first time as a human being, and they voted to continue support to the Congress.

“Maj. Samuel Shaw, who was present, wrote in his journal, “There was something so natural, so unaffected in this appeal as rendered it superior to the most studied oratory. It forced its way to the heart, and you might see sensibility moisten every eye.”

Most employees start a job because they need one. Salary, benefits, even interesting work matter. Many “wake up” to the incredible possibilities that are possible for themselves and their organization. And it is usually a leader that shows them and brings to life the purpose. The future. The notion that anything is possible. However, we stay and fight when times are tough. We dig in and make it happen. We believe in the cause when the leaders are flawed, human and willing to put it out there.

Tough for all of us to be George. Have you been authentic and wonderfully flawed today?

Don’t believe me? Check out my story here.

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