Have you ever heard the phrase, “Leadership is acting”? Hopefully you haven’t heard it from someone you admire as a leader; however, if you did it may have shattered their authenticity. A barrage of thoughts and memories may flood your mind and question every time that leader went out of their way to help you out. Were they just trying to look good for their boss? Do they really care about me? Can I continue to trust them? Were they acting as the above photo depicts; a wolf in sheep’s clothing? In today’s America, the population is looking for leaders who aren’t corrupt and they can utilize Bill George’s Authentic Leadership Approach as a checklist to see if the leader is authentic.
To answer these questions you have to look at the leader as a whole, not just at work. Are they a genuine person that you can trust? This can be answered by examining their behavior; are they the same person both in public and in private? Many times politicians will say what the public wants to hear just to earn their vote. For example, they may say “I am completely against raising gas prices” in public but behind closed doors receives campaign funds from corporations that would like to see gas prices increase. What we need in our leadership is someone who “understands their values (these values have to be best for the country) and behave towards others based on these values. They have a clear idea of who they are, where they are going and what is the right thing to do. When tested in difficult situations, authentic leaders do not compromise their values, but rather use those situations to strengthen their values.”(Northouse 2013) So the politician should reject the campaign contributions and do what they promised the people because they understand their purpose.
Look at the leaders relationships; are they strong? “Authentic leaders have the capacity to open themselves up and establish a connection with others. They are willing to share their own story with others and listen to others’ stories. Through mutual disclosure, leaders and subordinates develop a sense of trust and closeness.”(Northouse 2013) Think about your relationship with that leader, have they divulged their story to you? If not then you don’t know them and they can’t be considered authentic. If they aren’t, they can learn to be authentic by developing compassion. “Leaders can develop compassion by getting to know others’ life stores, doing community service projects, being involved with other racial or ethnic groups, or traveling to developing countries. These activities increase the leader’s sensitivity to other cultures, backgrounds and living situations.”(Northouse 2013)
What the above has shown you that a leader has the ability to groom himself; into an authentic leader. Utilizing Bill George’s approach and understanding five basic characteristics “(1) They understand their purpose, (2) they have strong values about the right thing to do, (3) they establish trusting relationships with others, (4) they demonstrate self-discipline and act on their values, (5) they are passionate about their mission”.(Northouse 2013) I would like to pass this information on to a leader that I’ve had in the past who betrayed my trust by disclosing something to the public that was supposed to stay between him and I. Once this happened, he lost all credibility with me and was never able to reestablish a strong relationship with me. In this case he really was the wolf in sheep’s clothing.