Leaders’ authenticity determines their effectiveness

Photo/Dennis Sparks

“One of the keys, if not the most important one, to building successful relationships is your ability to show a sincere interest—both in the person and things that are important to that person.” —Todd Smith

Leaders’ authenticity is an important but often overlooked attribute of their effectiveness that is closely linked to their integrity. Authentic leaders show on the outside what they are thinking and feeling on the inside. They are regarded as genuine or sincere rather than playing a role or reading from a script.

Leaders’ authenticity is particular important in forming and maintaining positive professional relationships. And while there are no formulas for becoming a more authentic leader, we can become more genuine by monitoring ourselves in various settings and by setting goals to cultivate this important quality. Todd Smith offers suggestions that can be adapted by school leaders seeking improvement in this area.

Take a moment now to . . .

• assess your authenticity using Todd Smith’s suggestions as a starting point, and

• note in writing an action you will take today to strengthen your authenticity.

“Leading for Results” will be on holiday for the next week, returning on April 12, 2010. I appreciate your readership and hope you find opportunities to savor the pleasures of early springtime.

1 Response to “Leaders’ authenticity determines their effectiveness”


  1. 1 Denny Berry April 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    How to be a truly authentic leader? Oh, my.

    This one is not easy at all. I wonder about why it is so hard…and then I bring my experience to bear.

    My experience says that so many believe that anyone in a leadership position has an agenda, whatever it may be. So I have thought about that a lot…wondering what kind of agenda I have since I have a leadership position. How do I act in ways that promote an agenda? What do I do that is not authentic? Why would I do that?

    My answer to myself: I DO have an agenda. I cannot stop thinking about my own children, how they experienced school, and the things I would do if I could do something to change that. I also think about all those students who were in my classrooms over the years (and I sometimes cringe at how badly I taught them) and I think about all the people I now lead…wondering how I am leading.

    I do have an agenda. I want to get better at what I do.

    And I have found that when I express that desire, I run into resistance. A good part of the resistance, in my opinion, has to do with the WAY I express my desire. I am simply not good enough at being the articulate person I wish to be. And…then, I also think that being an authentic leader is not something most people care to be…mostly because I don’t think most leaders pay attention to what they really want…and pay attention to other stuff.

    So…to answer my own questions to myself. I have an agenda, it can and does work both for and against me, AND I continually struggle to be that authentic voice.

    Boy, is this hard.


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