Question.

How ‘authentic ‘ are you?

Do work colleagues, friends and family see the real you? Or just the person you think they should see?

I’ve always loved reading. The chance to soak up knowledge and ideas, and energise my own thinking.

I’ve also had the privilege of being in leadership roles all my working life and always want to improve my understanding of the science / art of leadership.

So when I was introduced to a book called Mindful Leadership recently, I devoured it. And I found myself asking, “how authentic am I?”

Is my leadership authentic – full of integrity and calm? I think so. I hope so.

But it’s a question every leader should ask.

The author of this book? Maria Gonzalez.

I was told about her by a tremendous guy called Mark Hodder, who – through Academi Wales – has been helping us develop various thinking skills and techniques to influence how we work at Wrexham County Borough Council.

On reading the book, I was struck by Gonzalez’ definition of mindfulness as “simply noticing the way things are.”

She describes nine behaviours that really resonated and took me back to another work I read many years ago called True North, by Bill George.

What Gonzalez and George have in common is that they both focus on our internal compass and sense of direction.

They reflect on how leaders need to be balanced, attentive, clear, focused…and true to themselves.

Here’s a clip of George explaining why authenticity is so important in leaders…

In a nutshell, being an authentic leader will rub off on your organisation, and provide it with its compass and sense of direction.

And by providing that compass, you inspire colleagues to achieve their very best – and that’s the greatest part about being a leader.

Sumantra Ghoshal and Peter Moran summed it up in Towards a Good Theory of Management:

“From being the builders of systems, leaders transform into the developers of people, adding values to all employees and helping each individual become the best that he or she can be.”

So how I behave supports and encourages employees to grow and develop.

My behaviours are underpinned by my personal value-set, and the behaviours of our organisation are underpinned by its agreed value-set.

At Wrexham County Borough Council we have six values that guide our behaviours and act as our compass:

  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Innovation
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity
  • Commitment

Do they guide the organisation? Do they guide me? I believe so.

So back to that original question…

How authentic are you?