Authenticity In Business

For some time now I’ve been talking to people about authenticity in business and in business leaders. It’s something that has to come from the top and is a quality, if you can call it that, or perhaps a behaviour of every manager within a business and really of every employee …

where you lead, your business will follow - authenticity starts at the top

where you lead, your business will follow – authenticity starts at the top


Over the last 12 months there have been more and more articles from the top business commentators about authenticity; some overt and some covert, but the message is the sam I.e. that we can’t continue to do business in the way that we have in the past. Things have to change and are indeed changing albeit slowly.

AC Grayling is setting up universities and possibly schools that are quite different where “thinking about thinking” will be a core part of the curriculum as are understanding beliefs and values. What’s even more exciting is students are being educated and trained for jobs that haven’t yet been invented and so the curriculum is also addressing this. And other forward thinking education establishments will be too. For they recognise that if you keep doing the same thing you get the same results and it’s not just the younger generations who want to make those changes.

Some large FTSE institutions are standing up to the shareholders and city demands of the continuous reporting since those numbers aren’t the real story and that old way of engagement doesn’t really serve the business. Statutory reporting yes, but thereafter they’ll report in a way that’s more meaningful and use their resources to work on the business development.

Robin Field Smith of the CMI wrote an article in 2012 where he reflected on the values of sound leadership and leading by example. Where the attitudes and behaviours are evidence of values and beliefs and failures in business can nearly always be traced back to the qualities of the leaders, whether in their decision making or the systems within their organisations.

He goes on to say that employees want leaders who demonstrate they are working for the good of their employees and also the wider good of their society and the world beyond. Where the opposite of this is complete disorder when money and power get in the way and leaders who have no real accountability. I’m sure that you can think of many examples, not just in the news, but in your own experience where this is the case.

Now is the time to change how we elect our leaders and again, I total agree with Field Smith on this. The qualities have to be on the basis of who they are and their core values. Every business now has to be a values based business.

“leadership is of the spirit, compounded of personality

and vision; it is an art”

Sir William Slim

Only leaders who have these qualities can truly engage, not only their employees, but also their clients and their suppliers too.

We know that people model the behaviour and attitude of leaders so if leaders are authentic – and walk and talk their values and the values of the business – then so will the people in the business. It’s about business ethics, sustainable leadership that grows sustainable business practices and systems which will deliver sustainable businesses and sustainable profits and resilience.

This is reflected not only in the work done but the way it is done.

And so the change starts; the tide turns and there is a shift. And when it’s working on and with the hearts and minds of the leaders and the business, it becomes a natural way of being and is embedded in the very fabric of the leaders and of the business, This creates learned and shared beliefs not just in that business but in all businesses.

Seth Godin’s new book “The Icarus Deception”, where he says “the path of the artist isn’t for the faint hearted and its now time to seize new ground and work without a map” mirrors the clarion call of Slim and Field Smith on the art of being a leader. Now is the time to move forward without a map – the map is simply all the old ways and we know they don’t work.

Are you prepared to throw the map away? I’d really like to know what you think about authentic leadership in business and the corresponding values in business. Call me on +44 (0) 1296 681 094, click here to ping over an email of your thoughts or leave a comment below. 

Until next time …

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