Although authenticity looks unique and personal for each of us, we need to establish a common understanding of what we are seeking. Authenticity is when one is true to one’s own personality, spirit or character. Which is nice on paper, but what does that look like in reality?
To me, authenticity is achieved when the person we see ourselves as (our inner self) and how we act in the world (our outer self) are aligned. For example, if I see myself as, and want to act like, an inclusive leader, and I take actions in various aspects of my life to actualise that vision, then I am in alignment – I am authentic. But if there is incongruity between how I see myself and how I act, I am inauthentic. So, if either I see myself as an inclusive leader, but I do not take action to promote inclusivity, or if I actively promote inclusivity but do not see myself as a leader – I am in a state of inauthenticity.
We all know what it feels like to be inauthentic – that feeling of ‘poser’ syndrome. We know the feeling, but we can get stuck with no viable path out. The best part is that we always have the power to get ourselves back in alignment – back to authenticity. Either we change our actions to align with who we think we are, or we change our idea of who we are to align with our actions. By this measure, authenticity is not good or bad it is just a state of being. And that state changes constantly depending on both internal and external circumstances. How we adjust to that change is what defines us as an authentic leader.