How do you appear?

A lot of commentary I read about so-called leadership makes reference to leaders appearing genuine, or coming across as sincere or expressing sorrow.

Well, yeah that’s good on a Sunday read waiting for the takeaway Latte but am I the only one that sees this for what it is?  If you’re being being coached to appear sincere or to look like you’re interested stop and ask yourself wtf?

If you ever hear me say “I apologise” call me on it. If I apologise, then I will say “I’m sorry”. I digress for a moment, but when a public official apologises but doesn’t say sorry, it’s not as inauthentic as you might think. Actually it’s authentic, but they’re probably not sorry. If you’re sorry, you say it, you don’t describe your state.

So in coaching leaders by suggesting that they appear remorseful when things go wrong, or genuine when dealing with customers, without putting too fine a point on it, crap.

That’s superficial, pretend rubbish.

You either are remorseful, or genuine (which might be not sorry!) or you’re not.

You will appear as you are. That’s called authentic leadership.

Authentically Authentic

When I thought that about the concept of an authentic leadership course last year I had a feeling that other people would eventually grow this concept and what it means.  This week on the AUT Authentic Leadership Course, we have been very encouraged by the growth in understanding that all those we interacted with have taken from our authenticity.

“There’s no artificial stress”

“This course has a strong authentic identity”

“How does the strategy you are proposing relate to the organisation’s authentic purpose?”

“Everyone here is being themselves. It’s refreshing”

is a sample of some comments as the participants and others have interacted in the week-long journey. Reflecting at the end of this course I am struck by the deep desire in us all to lose the artificial constructs we put up in our work and home life so we can just be ourselves. One self. One authentic self.

I love it when participants and others comment that we role-model the authenticity. Actually it’s not that hard. We’re not pretending. It’s authentic.

Authentically Authentic. Go for it!


What should you ask your leadership development centre?

I’m in the leadership development business and clients sometimes ask me “so what’s different about your offering?”, or “what can you tell us about what you do and how?”.   They are really good questions and so I thought I would list the things I would like to ask if I were looking for some development work – whether that be a course, programme, workshop or other engagement.

AUT Centre for Innovative Leadership (CIL) is setting new standards in transparency and credibility.   CIL aspires to be is authentic. Authentic in the way we conduct ourselves – we facilitate in our own way; we have real and transparent qualifications and accreditations from reputable institutions; we have and embrace diversity in all its forms; we are honest about where we come from – no exaggeration of CVs allowed around here!; we really care about leadership and people; and we want the best for you – which might not be us, that’s ok.  So when you’re assessing who to use:

1.  Who’s behind this business?  A reputable organisation or someone out for the next dollar?

2. Can I talk to some of the folk who might be doing the work?  Are they engaged with the process?

3. Who can vouch that your centre lives the values you espouse? Give me someone who used to work here to talk to please?

4. What tools and instruments do you use? Are they up-to-date?  Will you embrace the tools we have in our organisation and be prepared to use them? Will you have people who can do that?

5. Are all the people who interpret the tools and 360 feedback actually qualified? Or is it just nominated people or the centre?

6. What are the qualifications of the people involved? Are they real?

7. Do you pile in content?  Or is your style experiential?

8. What clients can I talk to about your offerings?  I’d really like a chat because, you know, sometimes you can learn a lot that you can’t read.

There’s a start.  It’s not everything, but I reckon that if you can get good answers to all of the above you’re in a good place.  Then take a close look at the person who’s running the show. Does s/he have the traits you are looking for? If not, would you really be in the right place?  Of are you in the school of theory? Some people say that leadership starts at the top, so check out the top.  Does it fit with you?

Good luck!


ps I guess you won’t be surprised to hear me say I think we could give some pretty robust answers to these questions when you’re ready.  The only thing we can’t help you with is talking to someone who has left us!

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