Saturday, 26 February 2011


This subject reminds me of the Provencal peasants in Jean de Florette, mocking the eponymous hero’s plans to concentrate his farming on “the authentic”, which they caricature as a crop grown only in books. Yet authenticity is important.

A few days ago I co-facilitated some management training, where my co-facilitator listed various different leadership styles and then offered situational leadership as a model for selecting an appropriate style. I countered with the model of authentic leadership, which until then I hadn’t seen as the antithesis of situational leadership. I think it’s possible to be too adaptable, and leave those we work with wondering what we really believe, and what really matters to us.

Much of what is written about authentic leadership is too touchy-feely for me, with its emphasis on inner spirituality, but I think the essential concept is sound. Nigel Nicholson, in the current issue of Management Today, has his tongue firmly in cheek when he says authenticity is “great if you can fake it”, but he reaches the same conclusion I do: “the essence of leadership is adding value that can only come from the identity of the leader”.

We could all bring a little more of our real selves to our work, and do a little less role playing. A bit belatedly, my New Year resolution is to try to do this.