There may not be a more important quality to your leadership than authenticity, and I’ll tell you why:
This generation has a finely tuned “BS Detector.” They are scarily adept at being able to discern what is authentic and what is not. If you’re putting them on, they’ll pick up on it. If you’re not smoking what you’re selling, they’ll sense that too. The fishy smell carries for miles. And believe me, they’re smelling for it. They’ve been put on and let down one too many times.
For leaders and influencers this means the posturing, the pretending, the constant cropping and editing has got to stop.
Don’t get me wrong, like you I have an innate tendency to present myself as I wish I was. Too often I filter myself with the same care I do my Instagram photos. We all want to be perceived in ways that we don’t always live up to. Even as I write this I find myself having to fight my urge to obsess over presenting my thoughts in just the right way. “Wow, that Aaron is so articulate.” It’s ridiculous, I know, but that’s me most days. And if you’re anything like me, that’s you too.
But here’s the deal: everyone around you already knows you are far from perfect. Many of your shortcomings are already crystal clear to those who know you. To act like you have everything together is only fooling yourself.
You are only human and we all know it. You’re just like us. We all feel. We all doubt. We all fear. We fall fail. Stop acting like the exception. Role playing is a waste of your precious time and energy. Resist the urge to hide behind your fig leaf and present yourself better than you really are. Take a deep breath and let it all hang out.
Of course, being authentic doesn’t trump things like working hard, being disciplined or honing your craft, but a lack of authenticity can and will undermine all of those things. It’s just not worth the risk.
The truth is people are drawn to what is real. People can relate to the imperfect. You are already both those things. Learn to live and lead from there. Those around you will thank you for it.