Pure as Gold – Authentic Leadership

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It has been a packed couple months with Christmas holidays, playoff football and the soap opera drama of American Politics not to say the least. Indeed, American Politics is very entertaining soap I must say. Mud-slinging, undercutting, he-said-she-said, all comes with this amusing package of “Oops” as Governor Rick Perry would say. Who wouldn’t chuckle with the public tit-for-tat? With each dirt – or sin – becoming uncovered and exposed, our urbane darlings of great hope become  the ugly ducklings of great ‘grope’ – as Herman Cain found out and John Stewart mocks about. We stay glued to the tubes as we watch our modern day Alchemists, the Media, determine who is gold and who is not. In other words, who is authentic or who is a joke.

This was quite analogous to what I saw with the royal couple of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Yes, the Alchemist were working very hard to uncover dirt like they found with the other Royals. The Media brought their super power microscopes to find the most miniscule of faux-pas that could be brought up to the light of day. With every failed experiment of scandal, they were left disappointed that the couple were authentic as they appeared. They were gold.

I was part of the herd of onlookers who flocked to the television set to watch the Royal Wedding (for me at least in part). Yet I did not watch it because of the royal display of opulence although it was impressive. Nor did I watch it because of the fairytale narrative of the couple although it was romantic. I watched it for one key reason: I was trying to understand the qualities that drew people to watching the couple especially Prince William. The startling quality that I observed in all the conversations was the theme of Prince William being real – being genuine. Unfortunately, a lot of the American politicians lack.

Prince William displayed authenticity, which was part of his charm. It was the charm of authenticity that created his ardent followers. He was a leader not just by position but by permission as John Maxwell would put it.

Leadership, if we recall, means having influence, which is demonstrated by having followers. Authenticity is a vital component for attaining and maintaining leadership. It gives us the permission to lead others and have followers. When authenticity is missing from the mix of leadership, a politician’s effectiveness to lead from the polls to the post is weakened. Here are three brief reasons for this case:

Authenticity Shows Integrity: The Public can know that their leader means what they say and says what they mean. Thus, they know that their leader will take their words and actions seriously and acknowledge its impact on others. The Haves and Have-nots are equally considered.

Authenticity Builds Trust: The Public can feel confident that their leader is not duplicitous and ‘fake’. Thus, the Public will accept the leader’s vision and trust the leader’s (his/her) motives. They are willing to sacrifice for the common good.

Authenticity Creates Duplication: The Public can mirror their leaders and develop a culture of authenticity. Thus, the Public will build that openness, transparency and integrity among each other. This creates a stronger a society.

Just as important for politicians and royalty, let us as leaders, or aspirers of such, make these points a good reminder of the importance of authenticity. We may not be royal blood, but it does not mean that we cannot have a royal heart. Let us lead with regal authenticity. It is our gold standard. We should settle for nothing less.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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