by Michael Holland    

We know authentic leadership when we see it and at times in the absence of it.  Authenticity, that genuine, honorable, right stuff that is revealed as leaders walk forward ahead of their teams behaving in ways which portray the culture they believe can be built.

We teach managers to become leaders through adaptation of behaviors and development of key skills.  But authenticity is difficult if not impossible to teach.   We often look to rules, policies, laws, and regulations to guide behavior and instill a sense of expectations for situations in which leaders may find themselves.  Leaders grow up following the organizational and societal structures which enable them to effectively lead within the organizations and industries they have chosen.   We understand that the banking executive’s environment is much different than that of a software executive and still different from that of a hotel executive.

But there is a higher standard that cannot be found in law or a policy or a handbook or Roberts Rules of Order.  There is a standard to which, in my opinion, all leaders should judge themselves.  The standard of what’s appropriate, what’s the right thing to do when the rule book just doesn’t go far enough in detailing every imaginable scenario.  The standard that demands the leader make non-selfish decisions and to put the good of employees – individually and in total – ahead of self-interests.

Now is an opportune time to assess if you been an authentic leader or a selfish leader?  I recommend you invest an hour in reviewing your decisions and the trend line of your actions through the last 9 months.  Think through your motivations and rationalizations for decisions and conversations.

Worried about investing a whole hour?  Maybe that worry is a good place to start your assessment.