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Mirror Mirror On The Wall

How authentic can a leader really be ? For authenticity is limiting in light of the number of roles we need to play.

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Authenticity - I am sure you've come across this term at least a million times and if you attended B-school, just multiply that number by 10. I have no intention of giving a sermon on leadership but I do want to talk about this growing emphasis on authenticity and the notion of being your true self at all times.

During my b-school experience, a question was thrown at me every now and then – Who is "the true you"? This was supposed to help me on my journey to becoming a good leader. Having spent hours on assignments like these, even today, I cannot admit to have found that one persona which represents me totally.

All of us put on different proverbial hats depending on where we are or who we are dealing with. Who is to say which one of those is our truest reflection? Of course there will be certain common traits which define our core but there may be totally different qualities which we embrace to adapt to a change in environment.

Take me for example, I would like to believe that my core characteristics are polite, thoughtful and helpful. At all times, I will behave with these in mind but the differences will be apparent when I am observed in varied settings. At work, I would be more stern than polite, as a daughter, I may be more obedient than stern and as a partner, I may even be a disciplinarian because that is what is required of me.

I, for one cannot imagine being the same person everywhere and in fact I would be even more cautious about who I am at work. Ask yourself – "Who am I?" and compare notes with different groups that you interact with and you may be surprised. Of course one can argue that these are mere perceptions, but at the end of the day perception is reality and there tends to be more than one of those.

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