Does being authentic mean you can do anything?

At the end of the year WordPress, who host this blog, send me some statistics about the site, including how many visitors I’ve had, how many blogs I wrote, what the most popular pages and posts were, and what searches people use to find their way to the site.

The most common searches were stephen drainstephen drain autnegative leadershipnegative leadership traits, and rubik’s cube. I can understand the first two and last one gets searchers to me as I once wrote a blog mentioning the Rubik Cube (I wonder if I’m what they’re looking for? – all questions but no Rubik solution!). I’ve noticed during the year the regular,

Something so right - New Chum Beach, Coromandel

daily searches that people do for “negative leadership”. I don’t know who they are so I can’t ask.

But it is worth exploring in the context of authenticity. If I’m a negative prick, just because I am, then I’m authentic right? So carry on? If I lead by manipulation as that’s my natural way of doing things, authentic to me if you like, then that’s okay too isn’t it? What if I’m overly reflective and don’t participate in leadership meetings when I don’t feel like it? That’s my authentic self so why should I change?

All wrong I say. Sam Harris in his persuasive TED talk challenges a view that science can have no determination on morals. The same should be strongly asserted for leadership. As we have evolved as a species and developed a greater understanding of the human condition, leadership and happiness we are entitled to reach a scientific consensus on what is appropriate or not in leadership.

I know of leaders who use authenticity as an excuse for primitive behaviours like bullying, manipulation and silence. If nothing else my blog searchers tell me that there’s lots out there that some folk reckon is wrong. Negative.

Discovering and developing our authenticity can not be to the exclusion of growing and evolving ourselves. So if you’re a negative prick, don’t use authenticity as your excuse! Some things are just wrong. And some things are right.

Stephen