An article in the November issue of Toastmaster magazine brings out an important side of those in leadership capacities: showing honest emotion, which not only doesn’t weaken one’s standing, but rather humanizes and enhances credibility.
Authenticity comes from self-realization about the impact of one’s own experiences. The reinforcing example is that of the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote a moving story about the death of her spouse. Her openness was displayed while expressing the process of coping. This transparency contributed to the perception of being an authentic leader, to be “leading from the inside out”.
‘Being real’ in such a manner extends feelings of trustworthiness and approachability, qualities people look for in leaders.
Another perspective cites a speaker and consultant who notes that, in this age of pervasive social media, those who use these networks, especially the younger generation, want to know more about their leaders. Sharing corporate leaders’ personal information on social media is appreciated by their employees – although there is an obvious balancing act insofar as how much to reveal.
The director of applied research services at a centre in North Carolina suggests two significant traits for leaders are: self-awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, and congruency between actions and words. Displaying some vulnerability “is key to living an authentic life”.
A situation of discomfort for many, including those in power, is apologizing and making amends. Needed and addressed, an apology can enhance credibility. “When you mess up, you need to fess up…people want that and expect it.”
However, an apology which is insensitive or lacks a genuine character, again especially in this wildfire like environment of social media, can create quicksand for the stature of the careless communicator, such as the loss of trust. Accepting responsibility for the mistake is the first step to regaining it.
Here are the six stated A’s of leadership accountability:
- Accept (that a mistake has been made)
- Admit (by acknowledging and taking responsibility)
- Apologize (to convey concern about the impact)
- Act (to address the consequences and show more than lip service)
- Amend (with some form of reparation)
- Attend (by paying attention to reactions)
Exhibiting such behaviour is certainly core to the organic side of leadership.