Discover Benelux | Business | Column
Are you authentic? Or should you try faking it? TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS
The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has a new set of leadership values. There are five of them: Authenticity, Vision, Ownership, Achievement and Collaboration. This is a big improvement on the 13 leadership dimensions that one major international food company used to have. I never once met an HR manager there who could name all of them in one go, although I guess this is fair enough as I can never remember the names of all of the Seven Dwarfs. So ILM passes one of the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) tests. It’s short; but is it simple? I understand that ‘Ownership’ nowadays is about taking responsibility and not your possessions. I assume that ‘Achievement’ is about getting things done. But what about ‘Authenticity’? I do not know whether I am authentic or not because I am not sure what it means. In any case, I am not sure I want to be authentic. The latest ILM magazine is not much help. It quotes Charles Hampden-Turner’s definition
of authenticity as being “what lies between people”. I will leave you to ponder that. Neena Dhaun in ILM Communications says she is authentic because she acts with integrity, builds trust and is open and honest. This does not fit the Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of ‘authentic’ which is “of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine” – nothing to do with values here. I guess the ILM is talking about being genuine but this does not convince me at all. Not only is ‘Authenticity’ lacking in transparency, but it also ignores a basic fact about becoming a leader: that when we lack the experience, knowledge, confidence or competence to do a job, we fake it. By this I mean that we pretend we know what we are doing. With determination we slowly master the sense of being an imposter and we learn from each new challenge successfully met. ‘Authenticity’ does not cover this at all and I do not think the ILM’s other values do either. Research done by Amy Cuddy and colleagues at Harvard validates my claim. In her
great TED talk on body posture, she tells us “you can make it if you can fake it” and “fake it until you become it”. So, I suggest that faking it gives us a more useful focus than authenticity. It certainly provides a new take on what George Burns said about sincerity: “If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Partner in Anglo Dutch Business The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the only bilateral non-profit membership organisation solely dedicated to promoting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment. From our start in 1891, we helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs expanding their business abroad. The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, 125 years experience in Anglo-Dutch trade and investment promotion. Contact us now for: • Access to interesting network events • Participation in NBCC events and working groups • Exclusive access to our intranet membership area • Up to date economic information and market sector intelligence • Market research • Partner searches • Company formation • Virtual office services • Sales support NL Tel.: 070-205 5656 UK Tel.: 03333-440 779 Email: email@example.com Or visit:
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.