The word authentic is currently under resurgents of epic proportions, and I agree. It is used to describe a person, ‘Jonny is just so authentic that I can not help but like him.’ The word is used to describe a place, “Vancouver just has this authentic vibe to it.’ And, at times to describe a thing. ‘These books are so authentic looking I want to buy one.’ The once warm fuzzy descriptor authentic is now more, like meh.
Over the next 16-weeks, we will be tackling authenticity and what it means and how it looks for leaders. This series of blog posts will come from the forthcoming book, The Crucible’s Gift: 5 Lessons from Authentic Leaders who Thrive in Adversity. This book is based on the podcast Executives After Hours hosted by Dr. James Kelley, or me Dr. James Kelley.
In this blog, we are going to discuss the framework of the book, the Authentic Leader Model (ALM). I welcome any feedback or additional insights. Further, the AML is iterative and individual in nature.
At the center of the AML is the crucible. The crucible is a significant moment, positive or negative in impact, which forces a leader to become introspective. It also creates an opportunity for an individual to assess their strengths and weaknesses, leading them to become more self-aware.
Our self-awareness is our ability to grow and strengthen our professional and personal self and connect the process of increasing one’s self-awareness to crucibles and how the crucible is a cause to rejoice, not a reason to go into a self-crisis. Across the 140 plus interviews, what became clear is that leaders who owned their crucible gained clarity into the decisive role that their adversity played on their success.
Next, the model suggests that heightened self-awareness (we will come back to learning) leads to integrity, compassion, and relatableness. The concept of integrity is a vital attribute of an authentic leader and breaks down along the moral and behavioral impact they have in a leader-follower relationship.
The heightened self-awareness and a leaders ability to own their crucible provides context across situations and more importantly compassion. Compassion is tool authentic leaders use to create micro-moments of shared meaning with their colleagues. Across my interviews, I found many leaders who are authentic and compassionate. They were eager to relieve the suffering, big or small, of others around them. They shared stories of sadness and stories of how happiness provided them an opportunity to gain a unique perspective on others’ lives.
The heightened self-awareness and a leaders ability to own their crucible allowed them to use the concept of relatableness across the organization. I think relatableness is a made-up word because there’s always a red squiggly line under it when I type it. But it makes the point I want to make. Leaders in my interviews who identified that they had a crucible-one that led to the realization of compassion-were able to create shared meaning with people across their organization. I found that relatable leaders actively seek out people across their organization to learn more about them as individuals. It didn’t matter if they were talking to another executive, middle management, or the cleaning crew. They understood that making a personal connection creates a moment that can impact that person’s life, whether it’s for the day, for the week, or for the month.
The heightened self-awareness and a leaders ability to own their crucible only occurs because of the leader’s inherent desire to learn. Authentic leaders have the drive to learn about who they are, about who their colleagues are, about what their profession is and where their profession is going. They want to learn how they can increase their impact on the organization culturally as well as improve the bottom line.
The ALM is the foundation of the book and will be referred to again and again throughout the blog series. Stay tuned to next weeks blog when we introduce the idea of the crucible.