10 Ways to Spot Authentic Leaders

Authenticity, like trust, feedback, and empowerment are words tossed around in leadership circles like nuts at a squirrel buffet.

But, talk isn’t always cheap. Words change lives and organizations. However, talk is nearly meaningless, when it comes to authenticity.

fake authentic pretend real

Words apart from practice make you feel you know when you don’t.

Using the term “authentic” doesn’t make you authentic any more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car.

10 practices of authenticity:

I’ve interviewed scores of high profile leaders. Authenticity appears quickly. Authentic leaders:

  1. Talk comfortably about failure.
  2. Say, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
  3. Speak tough truths comfortably.
  4. Share what they are learning. Fakers pretend they already knew.
  5. Ask “dumb” questions.
  6. Explore-with rather than conclude-for.
  7. Invite feedback. You’d be amazed how many leaders fear feedback, even refuse it.
  8. Honor others, profusely. Phony leaders need honor. Authentic leaders give it.
  9. Know and acknowledge frailties and weaknesses. Fakers are omniscient and omni-compitent.
  10. Empathize without compromise.

Bonus: Adapt, change, and grow. Phonies don’t grow they spiral inward like black-holes.

You change before you help others change.

Fakers rely on position, authority, and manipulation. Authentic leaders influence through the power of their person.

The power of authenticity is influence rather than coercion.


Authenticity lowers stress; faking increases stress.

For the record, most leaders I interview practice authenticity. It’s refreshing and encouraging. Authenticity fills words with authority and power, without it, words are cheap.

How do you spot authenticity?

How does authenticity develop in a person?

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